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Prolific Machines closes US$55 million Series B1 financing in round led by Ki Tua Fund

June 10, 2024

Prolific Machines, the photomolecular biology innovator ushering in a new era of biotechnology by growing and controlling cells with light, has announced it has closed an initial round of US$55 million Series B financing, including convertible notes, for a total of US$86.5 million in funding to date. This first close was led by Ki Tua Fund, the corporate venture arm of Fonterra Co-operative Group, with participation from Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Mayfield, SOSV, Shorewind Capital, Darco Capital, Robert Downey Jr’s Footprint Coalition Ventures, Conti Ventures, In-Q-Tel (IQT), Matthew Katz, and several others.

Founded in 2020 by CEO, Deniz Kent, CTO, Max Huisman, and CIO, Declan Jones, Prolific Machines set out to find a more efficient and sustainable way to manufacture the critical everyday products, such as food and medicine, on which our future rests. Over the past four years, Prolific has developed a platform that will allow commercial partners to more efficiently produce higher-quality biological products across cellular agriculture, nutritional and therapeutic proteins, tissue engineering, disease models, drug screening, and more.

Today’s cellular biology processes, used for everything from making the antibodies necessary for immunotherapies to fermentation used to make the high-value nutritional proteins found in infant formula, are constrained by expensive, inefficient, and imprecise molecular methods. The unparalleled precision of light breaks this control paradigm and allows the Bay Area company to control virtually any cellular function in any cell type. Prolific brings together safe and effective tools – light, bioengineering, hardware, and AI – in fundamentally new ways. This round of funding will accelerate the company’s platform commercialization via partnerships to be announced in the months ahead.

Prolific Machines’ photomolecular biology platform commercially leverages light, a universal input to both biological and mechanical systems, to guide cellular behavior and optimize performance over time using AI technology. Inspired by the burgeoning field of optogenetics, Prolific Machines’ novel approach uses light to more efficiently and effectively control biology. In doing so, it stands to revolutionize biotechnology as we know it, creating new and superior biosolutions that can be made more efficiently and consistently.

The first applications of this innovation will soon be announced in upcoming partnerships. By adding more control to biological production, Prolific Machines allows its partners to more efficiently biomanufacture high-value bioproducts. Examples include nutritional proteins, antibodies to treat diseases, whole cuts of cultured meat, higher fidelity disease models, and other innovations never before possible.

“We set out with a vision to use one of our most abundant resources – light – to create an exponentially better way to control biology. I’m beyond proud of our team for making this vision a reality. We have proven that we can successfully control several cellular processes using light. This enables unparalleled control in both the space and the time axes, and this control is critical to making cheaper and higher quality products. I’m thrilled to be introducing the platform we have built to the world, and I'm excited to see all the different ways our partners will use it. We have only scratched the surface of what’s possible with our technology,” said Kent. “We have an incredible group of investors and commercial partners joining us to scale our impact. Stay tuned for some big announcements from us in the months ahead.”

“I joined Prolific because it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to use the immensely powerful optogenetics tools to bring new and superior bioproducts to life across diverse commercial applications,” added Maximilian Hoerner, Prolific Machines Head of Optogenetics and former PI in the space. “This is the first time light’s ability to control cellular functions is being used outside of research labs to make everyday essentials. It’s incredibly exciting and the start of something very big for lots of different industries.”

“Breakthrough innovations like Prolific Machine’s biomanufacturing platform don’t come along often – we’re proud to help accelerate and scale this disruptive solution that could make a positive impact on both human and environmental health, across multiple industries,” said Ki Tua Fund Managing Director, Komal Mistry-Mehta. “We’re thrilled to back this expert team, partnering with them through their next phase of development and commercialization. We’re excited to see the impact this technology will bring in the years ahead.”

​​"We are excited about Prolific Machines' potential to dramatically lower the costs of producing biologics such as protein therapeutics, vaccines, and engineered antibodies,” stated Eugene Chiu, Senior Partner at IQT. “Scalable biomanufacturing is vital to the continuous supply of medicines and medical countermeasures that can be crucial for health and biosecurity for the nation and the world.”

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