Less than a month after tapping investors for a $9.4 million cash infusion, Helicos Biosciences Corp. pulled in some cash from the federal government in the form of a two-year, $2.9 million grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute.
The grant, which is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is designed to support large-scale, high-impact research projects that are “expected to accelerate critical science breakthroughs and enable growth and investment in biomedical research and development,” according to a prepared release.
The funding will go toward improvements to the company’s Helicos sequencing system, billed as the world’s first DNA microscope. The sequencer uses fluidics and optics to process two flow cells simultaneously, performing strand synthesis and imaging at the same time.
The cash should come in handy for Helicos, which has only generated about $1.1 million in sales during the first six months of 2009. Helicos was founded in 2003.
In September, when the company raised the funds through a stock sale to current and new investors, it was already running a little low on cash. Helicos finished the quarter ended June 30 with only $8.4 million on hand and had spent another $3.4 million by Aug. 14, when the company disclosed it had engaged Thomas Weisel Partners to advise it during ongoing talks with potential strategic partners.
Officials warned at the time that the company didn’t expect to be profitable for at least two more years.