In a deal just announced this week, Bioverge portfolio company Volumetric announced it is being acquired by 3D Systems (NASDAQ: DDD) for up to $400M. Congratulations to Jordan, Bagrat and the entire Volumetric team!
Manufacturing Human Organs Using Bioprinting Methods
Volumetric is developing technology for 3D bioprinting of human tissue and organs using 3D stereolithography, representing a 50x-100x leap in speed and 10x leap in resolution compared to legacy bioprinting methods. Founded in 2018 by Jordan Miller and Bagrat Grigoryan as a spin-out from Rice University, the full potential of their work is to build whole human organ replacements for patients, made from their own cells.
The team has invented a suite of breakthrough 3D bioprinting technologies, featured on the cover of Science, that can build human tissue with complex blood vessel networks.
The story begins with Jordan Miller, a bioengineering assistant professor at Rice University, in 2013. He had spent months trying to create artificial lung tissue that functioned just like the real thing and had come to a major obstacle.
His goal was to employ photolithography, a method used to fabricate printed circuit boards and microprocessors using a water-based solution and a 3D printer of his own design to form a biocompatible piece of tissue-like material. But to get the solution to solidify, the printer’s blue light had to be shone onto a yellow solution—no other color was as efficient at absorbing blue light. Every dye Miller knew would work in the printer was toxic.
Brainstorming with graduate student Bagrat Grigoryan, Miller asked: “What about food coloring?” They couldn’t think of any reason it wouldn’t work, but the simplicity of the solution made them skeptical. After a quick visit to a nearby H-E-B, Grigoryan added some food coloring into the lab’s special mixture, turned on the printer. Forty minutes later, Grigoryan held up the piece of tissue-like material—it had worked.
We first met Jordan and Bagrat in 2019 on the outskirts of Rice University and participated in the company’s seed round in mid-2020. We had been immediately impressed by what they were doing in the lab at the time, seeding living cells on bioprinted tissue scaffolds with never before seen resolution and complexity. We were further entranced by their shared passion and conviction to realize the promise of engineered tissues and organs.
We knew creating an artificial lung would be a long, arduous journey, but felt strongly that if there was a single bioprinting team and technology out there capable of innovating their way to whole organs, it was Jordan and Bagrat.
Only 18 months after meeting the team, they announced an acquisition by industry powerhouse, 3D Biosystems, in a deal valued up to $400M.
Here’s a peek at our original Volumetric deal memo.
- Neil & Rick