Here’s a list of the public European biotech companies that are worth more than a billion euros in 2022.
European biotech is growing steadily and this year we welcome a few new names to the list of billion-euro biotechs. However, we also had to say goodbye to some of them, including Cellectis, Autolus, and Orchard Therapeutics.
While stock markets soared in 2020 and many expected the biotech investment high to continue, 2021 experienced a noticeable change in the market. In a phenomenon known as a correction, the stock markets in Europe and the US saw stock prices drop by 10% and more.
Many companies’ market caps suffered as a result. One example is the Belgian biotech Galapagos, which saw its market cap drop by nearly 50% within a year. The wonky market wasn’t the only reason for this, as Galapagos suffered a series of unfortunate events, including a rejection by the FDA, a clinical trial failure, and the loss of one of its most prominent US investors. Moreover, gene therapy trials were paused by different gene therapy developers due to safety concerns.
MorphoSys too suffered from the uncertainties on the global biotech markets in 2021. The German firm saw its market cap drop by almost 66% within a year. One of the reasons for this was the €1.5B ($1.7B) acquisition of the US company Constellation Pharmaceuticals, which many of MorphoSys’ investors saw as too risky and expensive.
While many companies suffered from the disruptions on the stock markets worldwide, others have gotten away unharmed or even stronger than before. The German life sciences company Evotec, for instance, has a diversified business model, which has saved it from being hit by the market uncertainties.
Another example is the Covid-19 vaccine developer BioNTech, which saw its market cap skyrocket by almost 160% within a year. In December 2020, its market cap was around €22.5B, a year on, it is at €61.5B.
This year, 15 biotech companies in Europe have made it to the billion-euro club. Examples of companies on the brink of entering the billion-euro club are the German firm Affimed and the Swiss company Sophia Genetics.
We decided to keep out other billion-euro companies that are at the edge of what is traditionally considered biotech, such as Novozymes, BioMerieux, Qiagen, and Abcam.
Please note that the market cap fluctuates for public companies over time, so the numbers might have changed by the time you read this. The numbers featured here are accurate as of December 2021.
Market cap: €61.5B ($69.6B)
Headquarters: Mainz, Germany
BioNTech is today the most valuable biotech company in Europe. While the company works on a wide range of technologies, including antibodies and CAR-T cell therapy, it rose to public fame in 2020 as the first company to commercialize a messenger RNA (mRNA) Covid-19 vaccine together with its big pharma partner Pfizer.
This mRNA vaccine, which has now been administered to millions of people around the world, was also the first of its kind. Since its approval, RNA therapeutics have moved into the spotlight.
Market cap: €22.7B ($25.5B)
Headquarters: Copenhagen, Denmark
Genmab went public on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange just a year after its foundation, raising a record €210M at the time. Founded as a spin-off of former US firm Medarex, the biotech company focuses on developing antibody therapies for cancer, with two of them — Jannsen’s Darzalex and GSK’s Arzerra — already on the market making millions in sales every year.
In September 2021, the FDA approved the antibody-drug conjugate Tivdak for the treatment of metastatic cervical cancer, which Genmab developed in collaboration with the US company Seagen.
Market cap: €20.2B ($22.8B)
Headquarters: Dublin, Ireland
Horizon Therapeutics develops medicines for autoimmune, inflammatory, and rare diseases. The biotech company has more than 10 therapeutics on the US market already and several others in clinical development.
In early 2020, Horizon’s antibody-drug Tepezza became the first treatment approved for the rare autoimmune condition thyroid eye disease, also known as Graves’ ophthalmopathy.
Market cap: €12.7B ($14.3B)
Headquarters: Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Argenx has a unique spin on antibody engineering inspired by the antibodies of llamas. The biotech company has a pipeline of antibody drugs targeting cancer and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
In 2020, argenx published positive phase III results for its lead drug candidate efgartigimod, which had improved motor symptoms of patients living with the autoimmune disease myasthenia gravis.
Regulatory authorities in Europe, the US, and Japan are currently reviewing the authorization application for efgartigimod, with results expected in mid-2022. Argenx is listed on Euronext and the US Nasdaq.
Market cap: €7.3B ($8.2B)
Headquarters: Hamburg, Germany
As a drug discovery company, Evotec has grown rapidly to cover a wide range of disease areas, including neurological disorders, diabetes, inflammation, oncology, and infectious diseases.
With over 3,000 employees worldwide, the company is partnered with every major pharma and has adapted a fluid business model, which involves different services, investments, and collaborative drug development.
In 2020, for example, Evotec extended its collaboration with Japanese big pharma Takeda to move into the gene therapy space. And after a rocky few months for the biotech market in 2021, Evotec launched its downsized Nasdaq IPO in November, raising €376M.
Market cap: €7B ($8B)
Headquarters: Hellerup, Denmark
Ascendis Pharma focuses on improving and developing treatments for rare endocrinology diseases and cancer. Its technology can slow down the release of a drug once inside the body in a process called transient conjugation. As a result, the frequency of injections needed to treat a chronic condition can be reduced drastically.
In September 2021, the FDA approved the biotech company’s Skytrofa, a slow-release form of growth hormone for children with growth hormone deficiency. Instead of having to inject growth hormones daily, Skytrofa only needs to be administered weekly.
Market cap: €6.3B (£5.3B)
Headquarters: Oxford, UK
Oxford Nanopore is known for developing a DNA sequencing device “the size of a Mars bar” that sells for less than €1,000. The biotech company is now working on an even smaller device that can be plugged into a smartphone to sequence DNA anywhere you go.
In summer 2020, Oxford Nanopore launched a portable test that can detect Covid-19 and seasonal flu much faster than the standard PCR test. The test was made available to labs and nursing homes in the UK.
In October 2021, the company experienced a successful IPO on the London Stock Exchange, where it raised over €400M on the very first day. Analysts are now seeing it as a European alternative to US company Illumina, which markets one of the most popular genetic sequencing platforms.
Market cap: €6.2B ($7B)
Headquarters: Tübingen, Germany
CureVac is a pioneer in mRNA therapies. The company is developing treatments for multiple indications, including cancer and vaccines for infectious diseases.
CureVac made headlines in early 2020 after vowing it would develop the first mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine. Based on this promise, the biotech company went on to receive €80M in funding from the EU, as well as €300M from the German government. In summer 2020, CureVac signed a deal worth up to €1B with pharma giant GSK to develop mRNA vaccines for undisclosed infectious diseases. And it rounded off the year by launching a €180M IPO on the Nasdaq.
However, despite this funding frenzy, CureVac was outstripped by its mRNA competitors BioNTech and Moderna. Both companies managed to receive approval for their mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccines in early 2021, while CureVac withdrew its application with the EMA in October 2021 stating it had changed its focus to a different Covid-19 vaccine development program.
Market cap: €5B ($5.6B)
Headquarters: Zug, Switzerland
CRISPR Therapeutics is one of the trailblazers in the field of CRISPR genome editing. The company is developing treatments for patients with blood disorders, cancer, diabetes, and rare diseases using CRISPR-Cas9.
CRISPR Therapeutics’ lead program, which it is co-developing with the US firm Vertex Pharmaceuticals, is a gene-edited stem cell therapy for the blood disorders sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia, currently in phase I/II.
The biotech company has also recently announced the first positive results for a phase I trial studying its off-the-shelf CAR-T cell therapy in patients with B cell lymphoma. In November 2021, it also launched a clinical trial of the first gene-edited cell replacement therapy for patients with diabetes type 1, together with its US partner ViaCyte.
Market cap: €3B ($3.4B)
Headquarters: Mechelen, Belgium
Galapagos, listed on Euronext and the US Nasdaq, works in inflammatory, fibrotic, and kidney diseases. Originally a service provider, the company transitioned to building its own drug discovery pipeline. Today, Galapagos is working with Gilead to test its compounds in several indications, including rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.
Following the FDA’s rejection of Galapagos’ filgotinib in August 2020, the EMA and Japanese regulator, the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, approved filgotinib for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in October.
Galapagos and Gilead decided to drop the US program for filgotinib in December 2020 after the FDA requested more data, which would have required additional clinical studies. Another severe setback came in early 2021 after the two companies decided to discontinue phase II and phase III trials of their candidate ziritaxestat for different indications. As a result of these snags, Galapagos’ share price went down by almost two-thirds within a year.
Market cap: €2.7B (CHF 2.9B)
Headquarters: Allschwil, Switzerland
Idorsia is a unique case in Europe, as it was practically born a billion-euro biotech. Following Actelion’s record €28B acquisition in 2017, its early-stage R&D programs were put into its spin-off Idorsia. The biotech company focuses on a number of target diseases, including insomnia, hypertension, and rare and autoimmune diseases.
In April 2020, Idorsia’s share price went up 14% after the company published positive results for its pivotal phase III trial, which showed that its drug candidate daridorexant significantly improved sleep onset and quality, as well as daytime functioning of insomnia patients. Daridorexant is currently under review with the regulatory authorities.
Market cap: €2.4B ($2.7B)
Headquarters: Saint-Herblain, France
In October 2021, the vaccine developer Valneva made headlines after publishing promising phase III results of its inactivated Covid-19 vaccine. The company’s vaccine candidate is made up of a ‘killed’ version of SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing Covid-19.
The trial compared it with AstraZeneca’s adenoviral vector-based vaccine, and results showed it had fewer side effects and broader protection. The regulatory authorities in the UK (MHRA) and EU (EMA) are currently reviewing the company’s marketing application for the vaccine.
Valneva’s phase III success for its Covid-19 vaccine came just a few months after another successful phase III trial, which showed promising results for the company’s chikungunya vaccine. If approved, it would be the first vaccine on the market against the tropical, mosquito-borne disease.
Valneva is also developing vaccines for Lyme disease, Zika, and clostridium difficile.
Market cap: €1.8B ($2B)
Headquarters: Dublin, Ireland
Prothena is one of the most advanced developers of passive immunotherapies for Parkinson’s disease. Passive immunotherapies use artificially designed antibodies that are injected regularly and bind to the toxic form of a protein called alpha-synuclein. This protein is thought to accumulate in the brain of Parkinson’s patients where it causes characteristic symptoms, like tremors and muscle stiffness.
Together with Roche, Prothena is currently developing a passive immunotherapy against Parkinson’s disease, which is now being tested in a late-stage phase II trial.
The biotech company is also developing treatments against the rare disorders amyloid light-chain amyloidosis, wild-type transthyretin amyloidosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, as well as Alzheimer’s disease. Its big pharma partners include Novo Nordisk and Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Market cap: €1.2B ($1.4B)
Headquarters: Martinsried, Germany
Listed on the Frankfurt stock exchange and the US Nasdaq, MorphoSys is focused on the development of antibody treatments for cancer and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
Its first antibody, Tremfya, a treatment for psoriasis, was launched in 2017 in collaboration with Janssen. The company has ongoing partnerships with other big pharma players, including Novartis, GSK, Roche, and Pfizer, but is also developing some antibodies on its own.
Market Cap: €1.2B ($1.4B)
Headquarters: Oxford, UK
Immunocore is developing a technology known as T-cell receptors (TCRs) that are designed to redirect immune cells against a specific target. The company’s most advanced programs are in cancer. The FDA and EMA are currently reviewing the marketing authorization application for its lead candidate tebentafusp for the treatment of metastatic uveal melanoma, with answers expected in early 2022.
Immunocore is also studying the potential of TCRs in the fight against the infectious diseases HIV and hepatitis B. The biotech company is collaborating with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on the HIV program and clinical trials are expected to begin soon.
In February 2021, Immunocore went public on the US Nasdaq with an upsized IPO, raising approximately €230M ($260M).
Market Cap: €1.1B ($1.3B)
Headquarters: Amsterdam, the Netherlands
As a developer of gene therapies, uniQure is best known for developing Glybera, the first gene therapy to ever receive marketing approval in Europe. Glybera was discontinued in 2017, but the biotech company continues to work on gene therapies for severe genetic diseases involving the liver, central nervous system, cardiovascular system, and muscles.
uniQure’s lead program focuses on the bleeding disorder hemophilia B, which it is developing in partnership with CSL Behring. The companies announced positive phase III results in December 2021, and plan to apply for marketing approval in the US and Europe in the first half of 2022.
Images via Shutterstock.com
This article was originally published in 2018 and has since been updated to include the latest data.