The lab automation player MegaRobo stole the show in the Asia-Pacific region in June with a mega Series C round of $300 million. Oncology firms Doma Biopharmaceutical and Tessa Therapeutics also led the private biotech investment rankings.
The Chinese lab automation developer MegaRobo was the decisive winner of June’s biotech investments in the Asia-Pacific region. The Beijing-based company raked in $300 million in a round that will fund the expansion of its technology to new scales and geographies.
MegaRobo’s goal is to boost the efficiency of life sciences research by using artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics to automate many research techniques including antibody selection, cell line development and molecular screening.
“The global life sciences automation industry has significant growth potential,” stated Kevin Ding, an Executive Director at Goldman Sachs Asset Management, which was one of the leading investors in the round. “We expect the rapid penetration of automation solutions to continue amid challenges in scaling up manufacturing and increasing hiring of R&D talent.”
MegaRobo’s top round beat May’s biggest biotech investment in the Asia-Pacific region, which was a Series A worth $100 million bagged by Reistone Biopharma in China.
In second place in June, Doma Biopharmaceutical took home $142 million to bankroll research into a range of drugs in its pipeline including antibody-drug conjugates and oncolytic virus therapies.
Another notable round was raised by InSilico Medicine. The company, based in Hong Kong and New York, is using a $60 million Series D financing to fund its pipeline of AI-designed drugs to treat diseases including fibrosis and inflammatory bowel disease.
In addition to Doma Biopharmaceutical, the Singapore firm Tessa Therapeutics dominated the Series A arena. Flush with a $126 million investment, the startup is developing cell therapies for the treatment of both solid and blood cancer. The cell therapies resemble approved CAR-T cell therapies and involve modifying immune T cells from either the patient or a healthy donor to hunt down cancer cells. Imuneel Therapeutics, which raised a healthy $15 million biotech investment, is also developing a CAR-T therapy in India.
In a similar fashion to InSilico, the Chinese AI player Helixon unveiled a large financing round bankrolling drug discovery technology that can speed up the development of large molecule drugs. This trend also follows a wave of investments in European AI drug discovery firms in June like Charm Therapeutics and Relation Therapeutics.
There were few seed-stage biotech investments in June in the Asia-Pacific region. One example is the Beijing-based Jingda Biotechnology Co., which is developing a cancer cell therapy that uses a type of immune cells called natural killer cells.
Industrial biotechnology firms also were present in the mix in June, albeit with fewer big rounds than in healthcare. The biggest of these went to Mojia Biotech in China, which raised $80M to commercialize its animal feed additives that are designed to be produced more sustainably than currently available alternatives.
Another notable round went to the Hong-Kong-based Avant Meats, which claims to be the first cultured meat in the region to be developing cultured fish meat. The startup raised a $10.8 million Series A round to help it make a sustainable, cell-based alternative to wild-caught and farmed fish.