Rubicon Genomics, the Ann Arbor, MI-based University of Michigan life sciences spinout, today announced it has raised $2 million in a structured debt deal. The financing was led by BroadOak Capital Partners in Bethesda, MD, with participation from Tucson, AZ-based Research Corporation Technologies.
The announcement caps a year of intense growth for the company, said CEO James Koziarz. During the first half of 2015, he said, Rubicon experienced a 40 percent increase in year-over-year sales.
Rubicon is focused on “pre-analytical reagent kits” meant to simplify and improve the DNA sequencing process. Its ThruPlex and PicoPlex products amplify small amounts or fragmented samples of DNA, enabling genome analysis and liquid biopsies. PicoPlex, which can prepare a single cell for analysis, has found a home in the in vitro fertilization market, Koziarz said.
“We can aid in the characterization of embryos by doing essentially a one-cell biopsy to detect potential problems,” he added. “It improves the probability of the implantation resulting in a full-term birth.”
Rubicon sought the new financing because it’s preparing to launch a new product called ThruPlex Plasma-seq this month. ThruPlex Plasma-seq allows users to take fetal DNA from maternal serum and sequence an entire genome, Koziarz explained. It’s non-invasive and can be used in cancer diagnostic applications as well, he said.
Christine Haakenson, Rubicon’s chief operating officer, said the company has found an interesting niche in the marketplace—and one that’s growing as consumers look for more accurate, less invasive pre-natal testing. “It’s the right technology at the right time,” she said.
Haakenson also pointed out a major differentiator in Rubicon’s technology: the process for preparing a DNA sample for analysis is all done in one test tube, which saves time and preserves material that might be especially precious. “With low-input samples—whether it’s one nanogram or a single cell—doing the process in one tube not only helps workflow, but it’s also why we’re able to be accurate. We’re not losing DNA along the way or exposing it to contamination. It also gives us a nice advantage for automation.”
Koziarz said Rubicon has been running profitably for a few years now, but it needs extra capital to grow quickly, improve research and development capabilities, and add sales and marketing staff. “We’ve been using the money we make to reinvest in the company, but we think there’s a lot of opportunity out there,” he said. “We have a well-established product line and a stable, profitable company. We just want to grow faster because we have more great ideas than we can get to.”
Koziarz said Rubicon now has 32 employees working out of a new office on Venture Drive, and the company is committed to growing in Ann Arbor: “We’re going to remain in Michigan and continue to hire.”