54gene Closes $25M Series B to Advance Global Drug Discovery Capabilities
Cathay AfricInvest Innovation leads round as company expands precision medicine capabilities across the African continent
WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2021 — 54gene, the health technology company advancing African genomics research for improved global health outcomes, has secured $25M in a Series B round, led by Cathay AfricInvest Innovation Fund. The round also included participation from Adjuvant Capital, KdT Ventures, Plexo Capital, Endeavor Capital, Ingressive Capital and others. This round brings the company’s total investment to date to more than $45M since being founded in 2019.
The new capital raised will be deployed to expand 54gene’s capabilities in sequencing, target identification and validation, and precision medicine clinical trials enabling drug discovery in Africa for both Africans and the global population. The new capital will also enable the company to begin its expansion across the African continent.
To help with this new expansion of its life science business, 54gene has made several strategic senior appointments:
- Colm O’Dushlaine, Vice President – Genomics and Data Science, joins with over 18 years’ experience in statistical genetics of large-scale datasets and was formerly at Regeneron Genetic Center and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT.
- Peter Fekkes, Vice President – Drug Discovery, developed and led drug discovery programs at Novartis, FogPharma and H3 Biosciences.
- Teresia Bost, General Counsel, joins with over 20 years’ experience in healthcare where she’s held various senior counsel roles at Celgene, was VP & Associate General Counsel at Jazz Pharmaceuticals, and General Counsel at Quartet Health.
- Jude Uzonwanne, Chief Business Officer, was formerly a partner at IQVIA, ZS Associates and held multiple roles at the Monitor Group, Bain and Company, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong, CEO, 54gene, commented: “It’s truly incredible to witness the impact of African scientists in global research and it is critical to global health that this continues. We want to scale our contribution to global drug discovery by extensively developing life science capabilities on the continent and this additional capital will catalyse our endeavors.”
Dr Ene-Obong continued: “In this round we have brought in partners that keep us true to our mission of equalizing healthcare and who can help us replicate our success throughout Africa. We believe the world will benefit from an African global drug discovery company that leverages the deep insights found in genomics research in diverse populations and ensures true equity for the African population. It’s exciting to see our company shift into the next gear as it targets becoming one of the top global companies in genomics research.”
54gene will also be expanding its genomics and molecular diagnostics division across Africa, ensuring that African patients get access to accurate diagnostics and enabling the application of precision medicine in the clinical setting throughout the continent. To lead this new business unit, the company has brought in Michelle Ephraim, as General Manager Diagnostics Pan-Africa. Michelle has held various sales leadership roles across Africa for Leica Biosystems, PerkinElmer, and Merck Millipore.
54gene is a health technology company centered on advancing the field of African genomics to unlock scientific discoveries as well as improve diagnostic and treatment outcomes within Africa and the global community. Founded in 2019, the company generates genetic insights from research cohorts in the world’s most diverse populations to improve the development, availability and efficacy of therapeutics and diagnostics that will prove beneficial to all populations.
About Cathay AfricInvest Innovation Fund:
Cathay AfricInvest Innovation Fund is the first early to growth-stage Pan-African Innovation fund connecting Africa with the world’s leading innovation ecosystems. The Fund, a joint initiative between Cathay Innovation and AfricInvest, targets investments in start-ups or ventures (either local, regional or global) that leverage technology and innovative business models to respond to African socio-economic challenges, offering innovative products and services to the growing African population. AfricInvest is among the leading asset management firms for PE, VC and Private Credit in Africa having raised US$2bn since inception. Founded 27 years ago, AfricInvest has made over 170 investments in almost 30 countries across the African continent in a variety of sectors, contributing to significant socio-economic development thanks to revenue and profitability growth across its portfolio companies. Cathay Innovation is a global venture capital partnership, created in affiliation with Cathay Capital, investing in start-ups at the center of digital revolution across North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa. As a multistage fund with over $1.5bn in assets under management and offices across San Francisco, New York, Paris, Shanghai, Beijing and Singapore, Cathay Innovation partners with visionary entrepreneurs and start-ups positively impacting the world through technology.