Describing itself as an “industrial biotechnology company,” Bota Bio has secured a total of $145 million in funding, thanks to a recent Series B funding round worth more than $100 million.
Bota Bio engineers microorganisms and biological components to make traditional manufacturing processes more sustainable. “One part of Bota Bio’s pharmaceutical business is focused on helping manufacturers of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) make the transition from chemical manufacturing to biological manufacturing,” said the company’s co-founder and CEO, Cheryl Cui. Acknowledging that understand “many traditional chemistry products are very inexpensive,” Cui adds that many API manufacturers are looking to make their processes more sustainable. “Boat Bio can help with that,” she explained.
The company’s technology platform, the Bota Freeway, “takes advantage of currently available technologies and leverages a proprietary mix of digital and lab automation tools,” Cui said. The platform enables its “clients to design anywhere and receive high-throughput screening data 50% faster than existing technology stacks,” she added.
Sequoia Capital China led the Series B financing funding round. Other backers include previous investors Matrix Partners China, Source Code Capital, Sherpa Healthcare Partners and 5Y Capital.
The company also previously received a strategic investment led by BASF Venture Capital (BVC), the venture arm of BASF Group.
Bota Bio plans on using its most recent funding to boost its global operations and develop Bota Bio’s lab-to-pilot scale platform. The company says the platform will ultimately facilitate the deployment of its product pipeline, including pharmaceuticals and consumer goods, food, and nutrition products.
The company recently expanded the design part of the design-test-build-Learn cycle to include downstream processing. “This was important to Bota because it means we can be a bit ‘microbe-agnostic’ and find the best solution for each of our clients,” Cui said. “We believe it gives our clients the ability to be more agile compared to traditional chemical processes.”
Because some companies relying on chemistry for manufacturing “do not always understand the benefits of using biology,” Cui said Bota Bio also works “as interpreters (or translators) between traditional manufacturers and our next-generation biological processes.”
A team of scientists and industry veterans founded the company in 2019.
Given the rapid evolution of synthetic biology and the versatility of its platform, Bota Bio can improve the efficiencies of manufacturing enzymes and difficult-to-manufacture proteins, according to Cui. Such enzymes and proteins “comprise the top-selling drugs on the market,” she added.
Cui notes that the pandemic has elevated the importance of biology in society, giving rise to a variety of COVID-19 vaccines. “Manufacturers are becoming increasingly aware that they need to secure supply chains while also increasing the sustainability of their manufacturing,” Cui said. “Bota Bio is well-positioned to make an impact on biomanufacturing, and we are lucky to have the support of such a great set of investors.”
Cui was trained at Harvard University and MIT. Its CTO, Chia-Hong Tsai, was trained at Michigan State.
Other executives have academic and industrial experience at prominent universities such as Harvard and companies such as Teva, Bayer, Gingko Bioworks and Codexis.
The company’s scientific advisory board includes researchers from Caltech; the University of Texas, Austin; MIT and Texas A&M University.
Filed Under: Drug Discovery