This M’sian biotech startup bagged US$6.9M funds from local investors, here’s what it does
- by XM Admin
Biogenes Technologies Sdn Bhd (Biogenes), a Malaysian biotech startup, has bagged US$5.7 million for its Series A funding from Pembangunan Ekuiti Sdn Bhd (PESB), according to a January 18 press release.
The fresh funds from PESB will go towards expanding Biogenes’ proprietary technology platforms across Southeast Asia, namely the Philippines and Indonesia where Biogenes has signed collaboration agreements.
“With this support, Biogenes will invest into a medical-grade manufacturing facility, advancing our technology portfolio,” said Tang KM, the co-founder and CEO of Biogenes, in the press release.
The startup targets to have the capacity to produce 10 million test kits per year and further develop aptamer-based diagnostic solutions.
On top of the Series A funding, Biogenes will also receive an approved grant of RM5.5 million (around US$1.2 million) through the National Technology and Innovation Sandbox (NTIS) 3 project.
RM3.3 million (around US$750k) of that grant will be provided by the Malaysian Technology Development Corporation (MTDC).
Growing due to the pandemic
Established in 2015, Biogenes is a biotechnology company, specialising in molecular diagnostics and genomics.
Its key technologies include in silico design of synthetic antibodies, known as aptamers, as well as rapid point-of-care diagnostic solutions in infectious diseases and cancer biomarkers screening.
During the pandemic, Biogenes focused its efforts on producing biosensor diagnostic kits for COVID-19. As the biotech startup already had a technology platform for portable molecular diagnostics, the process of getting into the COVID-19 space was streamlined, Tang told The Petri Dish.
“The pandemic kicked in just in time as we launched our commercial in silico design and validation platform for new aptamers in diagnostics and therapeutics,” Tang said. “The pandemic opened doors for us.”
Support from the government
Biogenes was the first startup to complete the NTIS Sandbox Fund 1. It participated in the programme to conduct validation trials for COVIDSENS, its rapid test kit for COVID-19.
Spearheaded by Malaysia’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI), the NTIS Sandbox was first announced as a part of the Short-Term Recover Plan (PENJANA) on August 19, 2020.
The programme’s main goal is to allow researchers, innovators, and entrepreneurs to test their products and services in a live environment.
To fast-track the development of innovation, NTIS relaxes certain regulatory requirements. In November 2020, Biogenes received funding from NTIS Sandbox 1 worth RM250k.
According to The Edge, the NTIS provided enough backing to Biogenes so it could approach collaborators such as the University of Malaya.
Aside from MTDC and MOSTI, Biogenes has also received support from another government agency, Platcom Ventures.
Biogenes was also a recipient of CIP Accelerate, a funding programme from Cradle Fund in 2021, for another one of its digital rapid COVID-19 test kits, APTSENS.
A unicorn in development?
In 2020, Biogenes secured its seed funding with an investment from Antler, a global venture firm.
With the recent cash injection from PESB, Biogenes’ valuation is reportedly now at RM125 million (around US$28 million).
“We strongly believe that Biogenes is disrupting a large market and we want to support their vision for growth towards potentially entering unicorn status,” stated Shekh Jamaluddin, the executive director of PESB, in the press release.
PESB is a multi-asset management firm that focuses on alternative investments. It manages funds for “sophisticated investors”, aiming to help its clients achieve long-term risk-adjusted returns.
With the grant and Series A funding, Biogenes will continue its efforts to commercialise its healthcare diagnostics solutions.
Featured Image Credit: Adrian Joseph, Co-Founder & Chief Commercial Officer of Biogenes Technologies