HK’s Haitong leads Series B funding for US biotech firm Orig3n

Orig3n CEO Robin Smith and COO Kate Blanchard. Photo from Facebook page of Orig3n.

Hong Kong-based Haitong International Securities Group (Haitong), one of the largest Chinese investment banks in offshore markets, has led the initial close of Series B financing in Boston-based biotech research firm Orig3n.

Haitong was joined by existing investors, including Hatteras Venture Partners, Alexandria Venture Investments, Labcorp, Spectrum Health Ventures, and KTB Ventures, in the funding round that raised an undisclosed amount.

Orig3n said in a statement that the latest funding round brings its total funds raised to over $50 million since its inception in 2014. The biotechnology firm develops breakthrough treatments for rare genetically inherited diseases with a focus on heart, liver and neurodegenerative indications.

“The Series B financing will support Orig3n’s international and domestic expansion as well as continued R&D development, empowering customers to access information about their genes to make educated, proactive choices about their lifestyles,” the company said.

Orig3n added that the funding will also allow it to advance its breakthrough regenerative medicine treatments using the world’s largest allogenic bank of cells that is HLA-matched to 90 per cent of the U.S. population. HLA matching is used to match patients and donors for blood or marrow transplants

“This partnership [with Haitong] makes it possible for Orig3n to continue revolutionizing the regenerative medicine and DNA testing fields, making it possible to bring breakthrough treatments to help heal and repair damaged organs and tissue and valuable genetic insight to patients sooner,” said Robin Y. Smith, CEO of Orig3n.

The company first raised $3.1 million in venture funding in February 2015. It closed its Series A round in December 2015 with a $12.5-million financing. It raised another venture round in June 2017, raising $20 million from eight investors.

Haitong International’s investment in Orig3n comes at a time when the Chinese financial institution is quickly expanding its presence in the United States.

Chinese investors are pumping money into US drug startups as Beijing seeks to become a global leader in new medicines.

According to data provider PitchBook, venture capital funds based in China poured $1.4 billion into private US biotechnology firms in the first three months of this year, accounting for about 40 per cent of the $3.7 billion that the companies raised in the period overall.

In May, VC firm Sequoia Capital China co-led a $25-million Series B funding round in Refuge Biotechnologies, a California-based biotech startup that leverages gene engineering technologies to develop therapeutic cells that fight cancer.

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