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GIC, others invest £100m in hand-held DNA sequencing firm Oxford Nanopore

SINGAPORE sovereign wealth fund GIC has invested in Oxford Nanopore Technologies (ONT), a UK-based company that has developed the world's only pocket-sized, portable DNA sequencing device.

Other key investors in the £100 million (S$184 million) capital raising include China Construction Bank International, Australian hospitality industry pension fund HostPlus and Oxford Nanopore's existing investors, said GIC in a media release on Tuesday.

The funds raised will be used to support a new manufacturing facility, commercial expansion and the development of new products.

Said Bryan Yeo, chief investment officer of public equities at GIC: "Oxford Nanopore has a unique business model of providing accessible, real-time DNA analysis technologies that can be applied to pocket-sized or industrial installations.

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"We believe this will continue to drive growth in their user base as well as in new applications for deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) or ribonucleic acid (RNA) sequencing. This investment reflects our confidence in the global demand outlook for DNA information across many industries over the long term."

Oxford Nanopore has a customer base spanning over 70 countries, said GIC. Headquartered in the UK, it has a commercial presence in New York, Cambridge (US), China, Japan, France, and Germany. New operations are being opened in Shanghai and San Francisco, while the company also announced the forthcoming construction of a 34,000 square foot manufacturing facility on the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, near Oxford, England.

It produces a USB device, called minION, which is smaller than a regular phone and connects to a conventional laptop to sequence long strands of DNA. The device works on what is called nanopore technology.