The Halifax life sciences startup is moving into a new production facility following two product launches.
Less than a month after the launch of its first two products, Halifax life sciences startup 3D BioFibR has closed an equity-and-debt seed round worth just over $3.52 million.
Chief Executive Kevin Sullivan said in an interview that the money will go towards automating and scaling up the company’s manufacturing processes in the wake of the product launches, including via a new manufacturing facility. The highly specialized nature of 3D BioFibR’s products, along with the need to protect trade secrets, means the company plans to keep its manufacturing in-house indefinitely.
The round was led by Invest Nova Scotia, with matching funds from Halifax-based Build Ventures. Existing investors Globalive Capital and Concrete Ventures also both returned as backers. Completing the raise was a $528,920 loan from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, as well as $391,949 of research and development funding from NRC-IRAP.
“We’re starting to go from very early-stage, more informal company-building to a more formal company with a properly constituted board,” said Sullivan, adding that Build Ventures and Invest Nova Scotia both have seats on the board.
One of 3D BioFibR’s offerings, dubbed μCollaFibR and pronounced “micro-colla-fibre”, is an additive for the ink used to 3D print tissues — a process called bioprinting. The other product, called simply CollaFibR, uses similar underlying technology but takes the form of a three-dimensional scaffolding for cell cultures. It offers a more realistic simulation of actual tissues than the industry standard two-dimensional culture mediums, the company said.
“This is really the transition for us from, ‘Can we make it? Does it work?’ to commercialization,” said Sullivan. “That’s the bridge that this financing is focused on — taking a lot of the friendliness to automation we’ve built into the platform and using it to help us make the fibre with quality and scale.”
3D BioFibR was founded in 2020 by Sullivan and Chief Scientific Officer John Frampton, a biomedical engineering professor from Dalhousie University. By October of the same year, the company had raised $550,000, followed by another $700,000 of equity funding in 2021. Most of that second raise was earmarked by Sullivan, Frampton and their team to help dial in the manufacturing processes for the same products released Monday. The company launched the products last month.
“Collagen is widely used in the biomedical industry because it’s so cell-friendly,” Sullivan said in a prior interview. “In the body, cells live in a scaffold that is made out of collagen, and that’s what gives your tissues the strength that they need to hold together.
“The industry has been using collagen for many decades, but they use it in its broken down form. In the body it’s in the form of a fibre, but industry then breaks that down to get it out of an animal and uses the individual collagen proteins. … What we’ve figured out is how to make (3D collagen scaffolds) that are strong and the right diameter, and make them at scale.”
The company is currently in talks with distributors in the United States, Europe and Asia. Sullivan’s 12-person team also offers custom-made scaffolds for business-to-business clients.
Construction on the new manufacturing facility, meanwhile, is nearly complete, with staff now in the process of moving in.