Super-resolution microscope maker ONI nabs $75M for US expansion

ONI, an Oxford University spinout and maker of high-resolution microscope equipment, has raised $75 million to fuel the adoption of its desktop imagers capable of tracking individual molecules within living cells.


With operations split between San Diego and the U.K., the company’s series B proceeds will help staff up commercial and R&D teams in the U.S. and Asia as well as fund the development of new consumables and software programs. ONI also announced expansions of its management team alongside the financing.

The company’s initial goals for its hardware lie in scrutinizing the work of CAR-T and cell therapies as well as examining extracellular vesicles, the secreted particles that can encapsulate proteins, DNA or other metabolites and carry them from cell to cell.


ONI’s Nanoimager device can be used to detect individual protein biomarkers and track their movements through a cell with resolutions down to 20 nanometers, or about a fifth of the width of an average virus particle.


According to the company, formerly known as Oxford Nanoimaging, the data generated can help identify the building blocks of life and place them in the larger context of the body’s interactions with disease and potential therapies.

“The more we understand about these intricate systems, the closer we will get to engineering biology,” said Keith Crandell, co-founder and managing director of Arch Venture Partners, which co-led the funding alongside Casdin Capital. “This single-molecule information and the light it sheds on disease mechanisms will allow possibilities that were previously unimaginable in the design of novel therapeutics and diagnostics.”


ONI’s venture capital round gathered additional backing from Section 32, Artis Ventures, Vertical Venture Partners, Axon Ventures, Oxford Science Enterprises and more.


Since it was founded in 2016, ONI has sold more than 120 of its Nanoimagers to researchers and supported more than 110 scientific papers, according to the company’s founder and CEO, Bo Jing.


Joining Jing will be Berkeley Lights’ Christine Nishiyama as ONI's vice president of operations, Gemini Bio’s Don O’Neil as VP of commercial operations, True Search’s Sophia Mowla as chief growth officer. The company also promoted Ricardo Bastos to director of business development, and previously announced the hiring of Tyler Ralston, former co-founder of Butterfly Network and Tesseract Health, as its chief technology officer.


This announcement was originally featured in Fierce Biotech. Read the full story here: https://www.fiercebiotech.com/medtech/super-resolution-microscope-maker-oni-nabs-75m-for-us-expansion