Colorado-based Inscripta announced it secured $125 million in Series D funding this week, catapulting the company’s total funding to $260 million in preparation for the 2020 launch of Onyx, the company’s flagship product. Onyx is a sleek, black box that’s small enough to sit on a researcher’s workbench and enables users to perform CRISPR editing experiments quickly at scale. For context, CRISPR refers to a particular biological enzyme that allows researchers to cut up and replace DNA segments much more quickly and accurately than before: Genetic sequencing — the tech used by companies like 23andMe and Ancestry — allows us to read genetic code, but CRISPR is a tool that allows us to more easily alter and rewrite that code.
Industry vets like Inscripta CEO Kevin Ness and chairman of Inscripta’s board John Steulpnagel are convinced that genomic editing will be the next big wave in biotech. Ness is a notable veteran of the genomics industry, having founded 10X Genomics (with a market cap of $6.1 billion) prior to joining Inscripta, and Stuelpnagel was cofounder and COO of Illumina, which supplies genetic testing firms with machines for reading DNA and controls 75% of that market. Speaking to Forbes in 2017, Stuelpnagel remarked how he sees the same opportunity in genetic editing today that he did when he helped found Illumina. And we think his calculations are correct: If Inscripta can hit its production targets to bring Onyx to market in 2020, then the company will have secured a massive early mover advantage in this exciting new field of genetically engineered medicine.