Benjamin Quiroga
3 min readJan 28, 2022

Reflecting on Cellino’s $80M Series A

A year ago, Cellino announced its seed round and came out of stealth mode with a bold vision: “Every human. Every Cell,” crystallizing the company’s purpose and a startup was brought to life. The team is pioneering outstanding science and technology that will make a large impact, not just for the biotech industry, but change society and enable access to cell therapies and regenerative medicine for all.

Almost ten years ago in 2012, Shinya Yamanaka won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research on reprogramming terminal cells into pluripotent stem cells, which we now call Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs). These unique cells can be differentiated into any cell type out of the 37.2 trillion cells (+200 types) in your body — heart, liver, skin, brain — unlocking the doors for regenerative medicine across a myriad of diseases ranging across neurology, oncology, cardiovascular and others.

However, there is a major challenge with iPSCs: cell manufacturing and differentiation protocols are still extremely artisanal and non-scalable, which leads to high cost and high variability. How can we expect to manufacture cells for 8 billion people without an automated process? This is where Cellino’s technology comes in.

Cellino creates a clear pathway to tackle this challenge by (i) defining a bold vision with a clear purpose, (ii) focusing on the key constraint factors of the current technologies — cost and versatility — and (iii) attracting an outstanding (academic and professional) and diverse team (expertise and demographic).

Humboldt Fund’s mission is to invest in cutting-edge technologies that have the potential to revolutionize the industry. We have a fearless vision to support founders and entrepreneurs that are embarking on a mission to impact humanity and society on a grand scale. We consider the market to be a distributed pricing system, where value is an aggregated social metric. In a world where finance has been democratized, the market should be more effective in representing the value of society, and great vision/business will drive the market towards them. The ability of Cellino’s technology to potentially regenerate lost tissue function, or perhaps even develop the first artificial retina, is the type of pioneering vision with a convergent approach that our fund invests in.

Vision is fundamental but this needs to be translated into clear objectives — and the first step is overcoming the main challenge of cost. Current pricing for cell and gene therapies ($Ms/patient) is not economically feasible or scalable for large patient populations. Cellino is building towards a future where costs would be 10–100x cheaper. An analogy would be how science/industry decreased the price for lithium batteries to enable electric vehicles, or what the rocket launch cost was for the space industry — both represented a key catalyst necessary for industry adoption and commercialization.

Even with a clear mission and strategy, the right leadership and team need to be in place for proper execution. The secret is PEOPLE. Founders play a major role by attracting the right talent and investors to their startup which is fundamental for growth. Effective communication of the vision is a major strength and core pillar at Cellino. People are driven by purpose and the scientists, engineers and talent at Cellino are creating and applying knowledge for good. Leaders need to represent their values and motivation and stick to the company’s initial purpose in the long run.

Great ideas and innovation are born from a mixture of knowledge, people, and technology bundled together by a great purpose. This is happening with Cellino, where Nabiha, Matthias, and Marinna have been able to put together a stellar group of committed scientists with different backgrounds — physicists, computer science, and biologists — supported by a great group of diverse investors.

At Humboldt, we believe that the impact from great companies cannot be measured only by financial metrics, but their contribution to the world. We are just beginning to witness the amazing power of the regenerative medicine industry, and Cellino is at the forefront of that revolution. Purpose and vision will be better understood as one of the key drivers of value creation, as a way to attract talent, investors, customers and reshape future industries.

We are proud and excited to support Cellino, a company with a bold vision, clear purpose and outstanding team.