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14 October, 2019 - 10:22 By Tony Quested

Mogrify clinches $16m Series A funding

Mogrify Ltd at Cambridge Science Park

Transformative Cambridge cell therapies startup Mogrify has raised an additional $16 million in Series A funding led by existing investor Ahren Innovation Capital. Business Weekly understands another close of the round involving additional investors might be targeted, but is currently being kept under wraps.

Mogrify is established in the Tuspark Bio-Innovation Centre at Cambridge Science Park with fully-kitted labs and is already working on its internal cell therapy programs for osteoarthritis, ocular and blood-related diseases. 

Mogrify launched in February 2019 with $3.7m seed funding from Ahren, 24Haymarket and CEO Darrin Disley and went on to secure grants from Innovate UK and SBRI Healthcare.

The company has developed a proprietary direct cellular conversion technology which makes it possible to transform (transmogrify) any mature human cell type into any other without going through a pluripotent stem cell- or progenitor cell-state. 

It is deploying this platform to develop novel cell therapies addressing musculoskeletal, auto-immune, cancer immunotherapy, ocular and respiratory diseases as well as generating a broad IP position relating to cell conversions that exhibit safety, efficacy and scalable manufacturing profiles suitable for development as cell therapies.

Mogrify is commercialising its technology platform via a model that includes development and out-license of internally developed cell therapy assets, development and license of novel cell conversion IP, and the formation of joint-ventures to exploit the platform and/or novel cell conversion IP in non-core areas.

The latest funding will support internal cell therapy programs and the development and out-license of novel IP relating to cell conversions of broad therapeutic interest. Mogrify is also actively recruiting and will increase headcount to 60 scientific, operational and commercial staff in the near future and up to 80 in the new year.

The initial Series A round was led by Ahren, an investment fund co-founded by leading UK scientific entrepreneurs, supporting transformational companies at the cutting edge of deep science and deep technology. 

Parkwalk, the largest EIS growth fund manager, backing businesses with IP-protected innovations creating solutions to real-world challenges, 24Haymarket, an early investor in Mogrify and a prolific early-stage investment syndicate in deep technology and the life sciences, and the University of Bristol Enterprise Fund III, also contributed to the new raise.

Mogrify has  strengthened its management and scientific teams and relocated a 20-strong workforce to its new headquarters at TusPark’s Cambridge Bio-Innovation Centre on Cambridge Science Park in May.  It has now begun recruiting up to 40 additional commercial, operational and scientific roles to support its expanding pipeline of internal programs, as well as supporting numerous biotech and pharma collaborators in developing novel IP to underpin existing and new cell therapy programs.

Dr Disley said: “Following the recent announcement of Dr. Jane Osbourn as chair of Mogrify, I am delighted we have been able to make an initial close of this fundraising round, with the backing of both existing and new investors. 

“Due to the significant interest, we have been able to secure this growth-funding without engaging in a protracted and distracting fund-raising process. Having now raised over $20 million, we can focus on delivery of our business strategy with the support of an aligned investor group. We will continue to engage with high-calibre investors with computational biology and cell therapy domain expertise as part of our on-going investor relations and capital markets strategy.”

Alice Newcombe-Ellis, founder and managing partner of Ahren Innovation Capital, said: “Mogrify’s technology is well positioned to disrupt the global cell therapy market. The company has grown rapidly since February, appointing a world-class management team and delivering strongly against its business plans. We look forward to supporting Mogrify as it continues to go from strength to strength.”

Alastair Kilgour, chief investment officer at Parkwalk, added: “We are delighted to be supporting the team at Mogrify, many of whom have been involved successfully with companies we have previously invested in, in this investment round. The science and technology base Mogrify are building is truly unique and disruptive. If successful, the positive effect on patient outcomes across a wide range of diseases will be staggering.”

Alice Newcombe-Ellis and Alastair Kilgour, both join Mogrify’s board along with Dr. Karin Schmitt, the company’s chief business officer.

• PHOTOGRAPH: CEO Darrin Disley (left) with colleagues in the  senior management team, from left: Dr Rodrigo Santos, director of Cell Technologies; Professor Julian Gough (co-founder and CSO); Dr Karin Schmitt (chief business officer); Joe Foster (chief operating officer); Pierre-Louis Joffrin (corporate development executive). Picture by Phil Mynott.

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