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8 June, 2020 - 15:08 By Tony Quested

Qkine closes £1.5m Series A to expand in US, Asia and Europe

Catherine Elton of Qkine

Serial life sciences entrepreneur Jonathan Milner and other Cambridge angels  joined lead investor Parkwalk in closing a £1.5 million Series A raise for exciting startup Qkine.

The Cambridge business is a specialist developer and manufacturer of proteins for stem cell, organoid and regenerative medicine applications. The funds are earmarked to accelerate the global scale-up of Qkine’s commercial operations and for key hires to the leadership team. 

The round attracted support from a wealth of leading life science funds and angel investors, including Parkwalk, which backs world-changing technologies emerging from the UK’s leading universities; Jonathan Milner (founder of Abcam); Martlet Capital, a Cambridge-based investor with a growing portfolio of innovative life science companies; and the fast-growing o2h ventures Human Health EIS fund. 

As a result of Qkine’s success to date and ever-increasing customer base, the company has also secured investment from its existing supporters, including Cambridge Enterprise and other angel investors, to complete the round.

Spun out from Cambridge University in 2016, Qkine is re-defining industry standards for growth factor and cytokine biochemical quality to enable more reproducible and cost-effective scaling of stem cell, organoid and regenerative medicine applications. 

The technology business develops and manufactures highly pure, recombinant growth factors, cytokines and other bioactive proteins using proprietary protein engineering and refolding technology developed by Dr Marko Hyvönen, Qkine co-founder and CSO. 

With few primary manufacturers of these complex bioactive proteins, Qkine’s very stringent purity and bioactivity criteria helps to strengthen the supply chain for stem cell research, biotechnology and drug discovery assays. 

In parallel, Qkine is applying its innovative protein engineering techniques to develop highly optimised forms of key proteins, helping to overcome core industry challenges such as, protein stability and reproducibility of cell culture. 

This will enable the scaling of innovative stem cell and organoid systems for applications including, precision medicine, toxicology screening and tissue engineering.

Qkine’s protein expertise and high-quality products have already attracted a loyal customer following from both leading biotech and pharmaceutical organisations, as well as world-class academic institutions. 

The successful completion of this series A investment round will enable the next phase of Qkine’s growth, including the roll out of full commercial operations across East Asia, the US and Europe, as well as its expansion into new markets, such as Scandinavia. 

The funding will be used to make key appointments to strengthen Qkine’s leadership team and accelerate the company’s scale-up and expansion of its product portfolio. 

Dr Catherine Elton, CEO and co-founder, Qkine added: “Given the challenging circumstances that our industry is currently facing in light of the coronavirus pandemic, we are delighted by the proactive and overwhelming support that we – a UK-based life science manufacturing company – have received from both our existing and new investors. 

“This is not only a testament to the company’s success to date but also highlights the critical need for improving growth factor and cytokine quality within the industry. 

“As we enter the exciting next phase of our growth, we look forward to drawing on the strength of our investor base as we build a leading global supplier of high-quality proteins to support scientists advancing stem cell, organoid and regenerative medicine.”

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