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London Tech Week

Varda Space raises $90M to build manufacturing factories in space

W1 Capsule Varda Space
Picture Credits: Varda Space

California-headquartered Varda Space has secured $90 million in a Series B funding round. It was led by Caffeinated Capital (CIONIC and Cedar), with participation from Lux Capital, General Catalyst, Founders Fund, and Khosla Ventures. With this round, Varda has raised $145 million to date.  

The new funding will allow the company to scale up the production of its spacecraft that takes advantage of microgravity to produce pharmaceuticals that are not possible or cost-effective to make on the ground.

“In the world of deeply ambitious startups, you almost never see anyone say, ‘Here’s my plan, I’m going to go get it done,’ and it actually happens. Varda is one of the few that gets it done, which is why we are thrilled to continue supporting them,” said Raymond Tonsing, Founder and Managing Partner at Caffeinated Capital. 

Manufacturing in microgravity 

Varda was founded in 2021 by Will Bruey and Delian Asparouhov in El Segundo, California. The space manufacturing startup seeks to help customers develop medicines and other materials in microgravity. 

Varda Space seeks to autonomously manufacture pharmaceuticals in microgravity, a strategy that could ultimately reduce the cost of life-saving drugs. Reportedly, the company is one step closer to achieving that goal. 

First-of-its-kind capsule 

Varda’s first hypersonic reentry capsule W-1 is modular by design and in addition to flying pharmaceutical processing payloads, the spacecraft can also be utilised by a wide variety of partner payloads. It offers the ability for users such as the US government to test materials and systems through both space and reentry environments. The company aims to launch capsules on a monthly cadence, making space research, development, and orbital manufacturing accessible to a range of terrestrial industries.  

The funding follows the successful conclusion of the demonstration of its W-1 in February. After seven months in space, the capsule returned to Earth carrying a unique payload: the HIV/AIDS medication ritonavir. The capsule landed at the Utah Test and Training Range during the demonstration. It had been part of a spacecraft launched in June 2023 to test the ability to produce pharmaceuticals in space.

“Over the past 15 years, many of the largest biopharma companies in the world, through research on the ISS, have shown the huge potential of microgravity. Varda is their first pathway to commercialise this work, and we’re pleased to see our investors recognise that potential,” said Varda President Delian Asparouhov. 

“Access to microgravity means Varda can help partners develop unique pharmaceutical formulations not otherwise possible. Varda offers a path to revolutionise the pharmaceutical industry, potentially leading to reductions in healthcare costs and better patient outcomes,” said Varda CEO Will Bruey. “We have built our platform’s capabilities and rapid cadence to be specifically tailored for the pharmaceutical industry and we are excited to finally bring the value of microgravity to the masses.” 

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