From January to April 2017, we have seen promising financial indicators for both private and public life science companies. On the venture side, Twist Biosciences announced a $33M raise which brings it to a total of $166M to date. Cash can be a significant competitive advantage when building a company in highly transformative markets, like Synthetic biology, and Gene editing (e.g., using CRISPR). Just last week, Two Pore Guys, a new company that has developed a hand-held nanopore sensor raised $24.5 M in a Series A round with Khosla Ventures getting into the action. The company is developing a solid state nano-pore sensing technology with broad applicability and plan to work with partners to develop assays for diagnostics, agriculture, food safety, and environmental monitoring. Within their diagnostics applications, they are targeting liquid biopsy assays, which has become a very hot field. And the venture capitalists continue to raise money in this area – a clear sign that investors remain attracted to life sciences innovations. SV Health Investors (formerly SV Life Sciences) in Boston/London has closed its sixth fund, hitting its target of $400 million. They plan to fund early-stage life science companies and focus on “growth equity opportunities” with healthcare services and digital health companies.
On the public side of things, some of the bell weathers of our industry, reported their first quarter earnings and they look strong as well. Ilumina, Waters Instruments and LabCorp revenues were all up 5% year over year. Illumina continues to lead through innovation and highlighted strong demand for their newest sequencer, NovaSeq, reporting orders for 135 instruments in Q1. Danaher Q1 Revenues rose 7 percent beating the wall average wall street estimate for sales of $4.17 billion and Thermo Fisher posted an 11% Q1 growth year on year reporting $4.77 billion in revenues. PacBio reported Q12017 revenues of $24.9M which is up 30% from Q12016. Roche Dx posted a 6% growth year on year. It is not clear how the current administration will impact the healthcare and life sciences industry, with changes to the FDA approval process and the federal government negotiating drug prices among proposed changes. But the first few months of 2017 seem to be off to a good start.