Andrew Forrest backs Sydney biotech startup in $26 million raise
Sydney biotech company SpeeDx has raised $26 million for US expansion and to ramp up its diagnostic technologies for illness such as cancer.
The raise included $5 million from Dr Andrew Forrest’s new $250 million VC fund Tenmile, which the WA mining billionaire launched last year with backing from his private investment company, Tattarang. Existing investors Platinum International Healthcare Fund and US medical fund Northpond Ventures also participated,
SpeeDx was launched in 2009 and took up residence at the deep tech incubator Cicada Innovations, developing biotech that reads and interprets genetic information to diagnose diseases. It has offices in London and the US, and distributors across Europe.
Its flagship products identify bacteria behind sexually transmitted infections as well as revealing if there is resistance or sensitivity to antibiotics to give doctors the ability to choose the more effective drug treatments.
The company has licensing and partnership deals with Roche, GSK, Cepheid, Biocartis and LabCorp. Its tests have changed standard clinical guidelines and medical practice in five countries.
During the Covid pandemic, SpeedX developed technologies to enhance the capabilities of standard PCR tests to detect genetic targets specific to a number of common cancers as well as infectious diseases caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites.
Demand for those products by medical diagnostic labs during the pandemic has helped the business ramp up its development pipeline.
SpeeDx CEO Colin Denver said the capital raised will help accelerate technology and product development.
“Our team of talented scientists are developing new technologies that promise significantly broaden multiplex PCR capabilities to improve patient diagnoses,” he said.
Tenmile executive chair, Dr Steve Burnell said SpeeDx is in a unique position to capitalise on the efficiency and productivity advantages offered by its technologies.
“PCR-based diagnostics remain the gold standard and we are excited about SpeeDx’s multiplexed solutions for large, high-throughput labs seeking to capitalise on expanded capacity generated during the pandemic,” he said.
Dr Bianca Ogden, Platinum Investment Management’s portfolio director and a SpeeDx director said the business “is really only getting started” on its global potential.
“Given the pandemic there is now a large installed base of instruments that are in need of diagnostic tests, we call that menu, and hence Speedx essentially has the goods to provide menu expansion for the large established companies,” she said.