A BII portfolio company, the start-up Twelve Bio, has raised a seed investment from Arix Bioscience – a global venture capital company focused on investing in and building breakthrough biotech companies.
Twelve Bio is a spin-out from the University of Copenhagen that began the commercial development of its technology in the BII Business Acceleration Academy in 2019. In July 2020, the company was accepted into the Creation House program and for the past eight months, the BII team has worked closely with the founders to mature the company into an investment-ready case.
“BII has been the main driver in this development, and we could not have done it without them. BII made the initial introductions to potential investors and has helped us define and structure milestones to get to where we are”, says Stefano Stella, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Twelve Bio alongside Guillermo Montoya.
For the past 15 years, the founders have been working with proteins that bind to DNA. In 2016, that led them to work in the CRISPR space with the newly discovered Cas12a. Through the analysis of images of how the protein changes shape during the process of binding and cutting the DNA, Twelve Bio identified which regions of the protein to manipulate to enable precise gene-editing.
During the Creation House program, Twelve Bio has explored its technology at a platform level, and the team will soon begin to narrow the scope to specific indications.
“Twelve Bio’s platform technology could impact the treatment of many different diseases, which has made it a very attractive case for investors. BII has helped the team to a better understanding of their market position and enabled the investor dialogue. It is the great technology and Stefano Stella’s trust and receptiveness to our support that has expeditated the development of the company and the subsequent seed investment”, says Giles Dudley, Senior Business Developer at BII.
Twelve Bio will expand the team that has already grown to seven people since the founding team joined BII in 2019. They will stay located at BII for now but will exit the Creation House program now that they have secured external investment.
“You learn by doing, and that is what BII has helped us to do. We have learned to speak to investors, which is very different from what we are used to in academia, and we have learned how to run a company. The access to lab space has been a huge plus for us and that it allowed us to see results very fast”, says Stefano Stella.
Going forward, the Arix team will work closely with Twelve Bio as the start-up builds out the operations and management team. Arix holds two seats on Twelve Bio’s board, with Arix’s Managing Director, Christian Schetter, taking the role of Chairman.
In spring 2021, BII opens calls for the two programs BII Venture Lab and BII Creation House. Click to learn more about the programs.