Recombinetics (RCI), the St. Paul-based animal-science and biotechnology firm, has completed an $11 million round of equity fund raising, making it a total of $24 million from individual investors since 2008.
The company, which is moving from research to commercialization, also has hired Capitol Peak Asset Management of Washington D.C. to assist in raising a next round of equity capital from institutional sources that could top what it has already raised.
“We have years of good science being done here, the products and the capability,” said CEO Ian Friendly, who joined RCI this year from an executive post at General Mills. “We are on the launchpad.”
Recombinetics also is a finalist this week in the agriculture-food category of this week’s annual Tekne Awards of the Minnesota High Technology Association. The high-tech competition judges lauded RCI for being “the premier gene-editing company in livestock, with applications in therapeutic development and testing, and in animal breeding and care.”
Thirty five-employee RCI develops “precise swine models” of human diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. It also creates hornless cows that cause less injury to other animals and handlers, and meatier cattle that are more heat tolerant.
“We’re currently selling pigs that have been engineered to replicate human disease states … to medical researchers,” Friendly said. “The field in the future will be medical device companies, drug companies and other researchers.
“We will also in the next year commence with agricultural sales, introducing desirable traits into livestock. There will be a series of them. This is no different from traditional breeding and consumption is safe. We’re going through the government process now. We can sell for research, but need regulatory approval to sell for consumption.”
The company notes that gene-editing to magnify or lessen a trait is different from genetic modification, which is much more controversial in the scientific and animal-rights worlds.
The firm was started by University of Minnesota scientist Scott Fahrenkrug, who was motivated partly by a desire to use genetics to relieve farmers of the messy job of dehorning calves with tools that hurt the animals and also was opposed by animal-welfare groups and some retailers. Fahrenkrug, with the addition of Friendly, moved from CEO to chairman of the board and chief scientific officer last spring.
Friendly, a 30-year General Mills veteran who most recently served as chief operating officer, was hired last spring as the company started the transition from research firm to commercial venture that would sell products and also license its technology to producers over the next few years.