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Backed by Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Tencent, Biotech Startup Grail Plans Hong Kong IPO
A U.S.-based biotechnology startup, Grail Inc., is planning an initial public offering in Hong Kong, people familiar with the matter said. Grail is a company focusing on early cancer detection, and was founded in 2016.
By Joanne Shih
When Grail was established in the spring in 2016, the company received financial supports from Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Illumina, and Google Ventures. Grail may seek to raise as much as US$500 million this year, though a final offering amount has not been decided, one of the people said. The company’s backers include Tencent Holdings Ltd., China’s biggest Internet company, as well as Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Celgene Corp., Johnson & Johnson Innovation and Merck & Co.
The company’s goal is to create a “pan-cancer” screening test that can diagnose people at a very early stage even when they have no symptoms, according to a 2016 interview with Jay Flatley, Illumina’s chief executive officer at the time. The same year in May, Jeff Huber, CEO of Grail, also gave a commencement speech at his alma mater, University of Illinois, stressing his motivation for doing everything what he had achieved is “to find a better way”.
In order to achieve its goal of detecting cancer at early stage, Grail is conducting and participating some of the largest clinical study programs in genomic medicine. Garil collaborates with leading community and academic medical centres to conduct studies enrolling tens of thousands of people to identify the patterns required to detect many types of cancer. Projects which Grail participates in include the Circulating Cell-Free Genome Atlas Study (CCGA) and STRIVE with Mayo Clinic, Sutter Health and other medical centres.
Grail could become one of the first companies to benefit from proposed new listing rules aimed at attracting early stage biotechnology firms to the Hong Kong bourse. Earlier, people familiar with the matter said, Fosun Group-backed Shanghai Henlius Biotech Inc is also planning a listing that could take advantage of the proposal.
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