Exclusive: Growing Portland biotech startup snags $5.1M investment

AbSci, a growing Portland biotech with a proprietary protein manufacturing platform, has raised $5.1 million in Series A financing.

Silicon Valley-based Phoenix Venture Partners, which invests in startups developing breakthroughs in the material sciences, led the funding round.

AbSci’s protein production technologies help accelerate drug discovery timelines, increase manufacturing efficiencies and reduce costs in the biopharmaceutical industry. Its SoluPro expression platform achieves what AbSci calls “revolutionary” yields of soluble and active therapeutic proteins.

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AbSci will use the funding to support further development and scale-up of SoluPro for the commercial production of insulin and other biologic drugs. Global demand for insulin is outstripping production capabilities.

“This will help us take it to the next level, to further develop the technology and get it ready for commercialization,” said AbSci founder and CEO Sean McClain.

The five-year-old company has undisclosed industry partners. McClain estimates it will be a few years before large pharmaceutical companies license the technology for use in their manufacturing process for biologic drugs.

“AbSci’s technology enables greater manufacturing flexibility and dramatically more efficient use of existing manufacturing infrastructure,” Dr. Zach Jonasson, general partner at Phoenix Venture Partners, said in a release.

AbSci also made news last fall, when McClain announced that it will be moving from Portland to neighboring Vancouver, Wash.

AbSci signed a lease for a portion of the former Red Lion hotel building, which the Port of Vancouver USA is converting into a new biotech hub. The move, slated for mid-June, will allow AbSci to expand to an anticipated 50 employees by 2020, up from 13 currently.

AbSci was the first startup to lease space at the OTRADI Bioscience Incubator on Macadam Avenue and the first to graduate.

“Their technology is truly innovative, and they deserve congratulations on their expansion and development moving forward. We are so very pleased to have been able to help them on their journey,” said Jennifer Fox, executive director of OTRADI.

Elizabeth Hayes
Staff Reporter
Portland Business Journal
Apr. 11, 2016

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