Temasek leads $85m Series B round for China-based Gracell Biotech

Signage for Temasek Holdings Pte is displayed in the lobby at the company's headquarters in Singapore. Photographer: Bryan van der Beek/Bloomberg

Suzhou-based biomedical company Gracell Biotechnologies has raised $85 million in a Series B funding round led by Singapore’s state investment firm Temasek, per an announcement on Monday.

Other participating investors include Lilly Asia Ventures, Kington Capital, King Star Capital and Chengdu Miaoji.

Established in 2017, Gracell focuses on resolving the cellular gene therapy industry’s major challenges such as high production costs, lengthy manufacturing process, lack of off-the-shelf products, and short duration of therapeutic effects.

The company, which has additional locations in Shanghai and Hong Kong, was initially supported by Series A financing from 6 Dimensions shortly after its establishment.

This new funding will enable Gracell to enter clinical trials with several of its next-generation immune cell gene therapy drug candidates.

“Immune cell gene therapy is expected to become a pillar of modern medicine, but the industry is still in its infancy. Challenges and opportunities coexist,” said Gracell founder, chairman and CEO Dr. William Cao. “The company’s goal is to develop high-quality, low-cost, easy-to-use cellular gene therapy drugs that bring hope to cancer patients.”

The funding for Gracell comes amid strong investment interest in China’s biotech space from both local and foreign investors. Earlier this month, Singapore’s GIC led an 850-million yuan ($125.5-million) Series C funding round for Chinese biotech firm Burning Rock, with participation from LYFE Capital, CMB International Capital, Sequoia Capital China, T&Brothers Capital and Lilly Asia Ventures (LAV).

China-based biomedical venture capital firm Lily Asia Ventures has been one of the most active investors in the local biotech space. Before its investment in Gracell and Burning Rock, the firm had led a $15-million pre Series B round for Beijing-based biotech company EdiGene Inc.

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.