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Varda: Commercializing Microgravity Research to Manufacture Drugs in Orbit

Image Credits: Varda
By: Headliners News / April 18, 2024

Meet Varda, an innovative tech startup who has recently secured $90 million in Series B funding, signaling a pivotal moment for the company following the success of its first drug manufacturing mission in orbit. Founded in 2021 by Delian Asparouhov and Will Bruey, Varda aims to commercialize microgravity research on pharmaceutical crystals, leveraging advancements in space technology and partnerships with companies like SpaceX and Rocket Lab.

While drug crystallization experiments in microgravity aren’t new, the business case for scaling up this research has been limited by various constraints. However, with the availability of low-cost rideshare launches and advancements in spacecraft technology, Varda sees an opportunity to revolutionize pharmaceutical manufacturing in space.

Varda’s first mission, which lasted 10 months, demonstrated flawless performance and successfully reformulated the HIV medicine ritonavir. The company’s hyper-gravity crystallization platform, developed as a screening method prior to space experiments, represents a new frontier in scientific research, enabling the exploration of gravity as a variable in drug performance.

As Varda plans to increase the cadence of its missions, it aims to drive down costs by refurbishing and reusing its spacecraft capsules. While reusability is a long-term goal, the company will focus on scaling up mission frequency before pursuing it extensively.

Pharmaceuticals will be Varda’s primary focus for the foreseeable future, given their potential for generating economic value. With signed contracts from biotech companies and upcoming missions planned with Rocket Lab, Varda is poised to advance its mission of revolutionizing drug manufacturing in space.

The $90 million Series B round was led by Caffeinated Capital, with participation from Lux Capital, General Catalyst, Founders Fund, and Khosla Ventures, bringing Varda’s total funding to $145 million.

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