Advanced Animal nabs $15M to speed development of on-farm diagnostics

Since its founding in 2001, North Carolina's Advanced Animal Diagnostics (AAD) has financed its pipeline with the help of an impressive list of private investors, including Novartis Venture Funds. On December 8, AAD expanded its list of backers, announcing that it has closed an oversubscribed $15 million Series C financing.

The funding round was led by Cultivian Sandbox and Kansas Bioscience Authority, with participation from Novartis ($NVS), LabCorp ($LH), Middleland Capital, Intersouth Partners, and private individuals, according to a press release from the company. AAD had raised $15 million in its two previous venture financings.

AAD is developing diagnostic tests that can instantly detect diseases like mastitis, an infection in dairy cows that can greatly hamper milk production. The company's products, which include QScout Farm Lab--dubbed a "point-of-cow" diagnostics system by the company--allow farmers to run tests without having to send samples out and wait for the results. The company launched its first two QScout products in 2013, both aimed at detecting mastitis.

Undetected cases of mastitis cost the U.S. dairy industry about $2 billion a year, according to data compiled by AAD. Early detection can help farmers stem those losses, the company argues. In addition, on-farm diagnostics allow "producers to make more accurate management decisions to improve animal health and their bottom line while ensuring they use antibiotics only when needed," says AAD CEO Joy Parr Drach in a press release about the new financing.

The demand for new diagnostic tools has been robust across the animal health industry. Among the other beneficiaries of that trend is IDEXX Laboratories ($IDXX), which announced in October that third-quarter sales in its companion animal division rose 13% year over year, and its poultry, livestock, and dairy unit saw revenue growth of 14%. In July, IDEXX opened a $35 million expansion at its Maine headquarters.

AAD says it plans to use its new round of funding to expand its commercial and manufacturing capabilities, and to develop additional livestock tests for both the beef and dairy industries.

- here's AAD's release