A startup led by former Illumina executives that wants to advance prenatal testing recently landed a $17.1 million series A round.

San Diego’s Cradle Genomics wants to make non-invasive prenatal testing, or NIPT – used to detect problems with pregnancy – broader and for earlier stages of pregnancy.

Cradle said its technology increases the purity of fetal DNA, offering answers as early as the fifth week of pregnancy. It also claims to delivers “the most comprehensive content among all NIPT providers.”

"Our mission at Cradle Genomics is to deliver genetic knowledge for life, with a vision of better outcomes for every pregnancy,” said CEO Tristan Orpin in a statement.

Cradles is just one of San Diego’s startups with former Illumina talent. Orpin, as well as Cradle executives Richard Shippy and Jeff Eidel, hail from Illumina.

With technology licensed from Wayne State University in Michigan, Cradle relocated from Detroit to San Diego.

The company said it’s banking on its intellectual property, assay expertise and market experience in reproductive health.

Cradle’s mission ostensibly pits the company against Illumina, which is a force in NIPT. But the company’s investment arm, Illumina Ventures, led the round, along with Section 32.

Also participating were Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Sea Lane Ventures, Listwin Ventures and Axon Ventures.

Orpin and Shippy, along with Wayne State University professors Randy Armant and Sascha Drewlo, founded the company.

Orpin told the San Diego Business Journal last year that the opportunity to lead Cradle pulled him out of a short-lived retirement.

“The reason I’m back doing something is that the opportunity that was presented to me was emotionally, as well from a business perspective, so compelling,” he said.