Tokyo (SCCIJ) – Lunaphore, a young spin-off of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), has raised 23 million francs in Series C funding. This latest financing round was led by Japanese investor PHC PHC Group, the former health care arm of Panasonic, to achieve synergies. Lunaphore develops pioneering equipment for cancer research and tissue diagnostics, and PHC Group’ Epredia specializes in precision cancer diagnostics.
Expansion in U.S. market
The closing of the oversubscribed round included existing investors Redalpine Venture Partners, Occident, and Alpana Ventures. With the latest fundraising, the Swiss start-up, whose first product hit the European market last summer, is boosting its capital to 34.3 million francs. It plans to use the proceeds for a U.S. market entry, the ramp-up of activities in Europe, and the development of the next generation of instruments.
Lunaphore CEO Ata Tuna Ciftlik said: “The interest of global healthcare players like PHC demonstrates the relevance and added value of our technology and confirms its high potential to transform the field of tissue analytics.” Michael Kloss, President and CEO of PHC Group, added: “Lunaphore’s tissue staining products complement the portfolio we currently have in Epredia, and we believe there is a strong opportunity for growth in their business.”
Faster cancer detection
Lunaphore, created in 2014, develops a tumor analysis platform. Its automated tissue-staining solution uses microfluidics to increase the speed and reliability of lab processes vastly. Last summer, it launched LabSatTM, a system that reduces the time needed to get tumor biopsy results from a matter of hours to a matter of minutes. Earlier, Lunaphore signed collaborations with global corporation PerkinsElmer and biomedical research firm Vitro.
Epredia, one of the PHC group companies, was established in July 2019 through an acquisition by PHC Group from Thermo Fisher Scientific. Powered by brands such as Richard-Allan Scientific, Microm, Shandon, Menzel Gläser, and Erie Scientific, Epredia has a wide breadth of solutions for the anatomical pathology market.
The capital injection for the Swiss start-up aims at improving the business chances of Epredia as well as of Lunaphore. CEO Ciftlik noted that PHC’s expertise and rapidly expanding network, combined with Epredia’s specialist knowledge in anatomical pathology, will help Lunaphore grow more quickly and broadly.
Epredia president James Post who takes a board seat on the Swiss start-up assisted: “Their technology has the potential to help revolutionize tissue analytics and greatly improve the workflow for pathologists and Immuno-oncology researchers.”
Former Panasonic group
PHC Group is the former Panasonic Healthcare Holdings, had consolidated net sales in 2018 of 186.8 billion yen and employs 5,400 people. With a global distribution of products and services for more than 125 countries, it focuses on diabetes management, diagnostics, life sciences, and healthcare services. In 2013, the U.S. investment company Kohlberg Kravis Robert initially paid 165 billion yen for 80% of Panasonic’s health care business.
Three years later, the trading company Mitsui acquired nearly a quarter of KKR’s stake. In 2019, Life Science Institute, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Chemical, entered the alliance. As a result of the transactions, the U.S. venture group now owns approximately 52% of PHC Group shares, Mitsui 22%, Life Science Institute 13.7%, and Panasonic Corporation 12.3%.
Text: SCCIJ with material of Lunaphore, PHC Group and Epredia; Photo: © Lunaphore