Dammam Valley, an investment fund owned by the Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University in Saudi Arabia, has acquired a majority stake in direct-to-consumer clinical genetic testing startup Arcensus.
Rostock, Germany-based Arcensus said that Dammam Valley and other undisclosed investors are making a “double-digit million euro” investment, without actually disclosing any financial details.
Arcensus was founded in December 2020 and offers tests for hereditary cancer and cardiovascular disease risk.
According to the startup’s founder and chief executive officer Arndt Rolfs, a professor of neuro-regeneration at the University of Rostock and a former CEO of Centogene, the company is interested in Arabic countries like Saudi Arabia because of their high level of consanguinity that makes more people susceptible to genetic disorders.
Rolfs will continue to manage operations of Arcensus, sit on the board and remain a significant shareholder.
The company is also looking to expand to the US and then to South Asia.
The Saudi Arabian government itself is looking to invest more money in implementing genomic testing for the early diagnosis of genetic diseases, mainly in cancer and rare genetic disorders.
Established in 2021, Dammam Valley is a semi-government investment company, solely owned by Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University.
“This is an important step in our global healthcare strategy for Saudi Arabia, as we believe that the early diagnosis and preventive testing based on real-life genomic expertise with whole genome sequencing is a key ingredient to accelerate the development of, and access to, new future treatments,” said Abdulrahman Al-Olayan, CEO of Dammam Valley.