Absci Corp., a Vancouver-based biotech firm, said Wednesday it’s filed for an initial public offering.
The company, founded in Portland, aims to use computer technology to identify new protein-based drugs known as biologics, then synthesize them using specially engineered bacteria as factories.
It moved to Vancouver in 2016 after Washington Gov. Jay Inslee invested $200,000 from his office’s strategic reserve fund. The company has to date attracted $230 million in investment, including a $125 million round earlier this year.
The company’s initial filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission indicate it plans to raise around $100 million in the proposed offering, but it has not disclosed the number of shares to be offered or the price range. It plans to list on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker symbol ABSI.
The filings show the company had $4.8 million in revenue last year, up from $2.1 million in 2019. It reported a net loss of $14.4 million, up from $6.6 million in 2019.
Absci intends to partner with larger pharmaceutical companies to create new drug candidates, which the partners — among them the drug company Merck & Co., which has also invested in Absci — would shepherd through clinical trials and regulatory approvals.
It says it has seven partners on various drug candidates, but none of the candidates have so far been licensed for clinical or commercial use.
The company’s largest shareholder is Phoenix Venture Partners, a Series A financier that owns 17.5% of the company, followed by founder and chief executive Sean McClain, who owns 11.3%.
Absci acquired two other biotech firms this year, Denovium Inc. in January and Totient Inc. in June.
It now has 169 employees, though not all are in Vancouver. As a result of the Totient acquisition, it has offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Belgrade, Serbia, as well as employees in the United Kingdom.
The company is planning for significant growth in Southwest Washington, though. In December, it signed a lease for 78,000 square feet of office and laboratory space at the Columbia Tech Center in east Vancouver, a significant upgrade from the 15,000 square feet it occupies in the city’s downtown.
— Elliot Njus