The Billion-Euro European Biotech Companies in 2018

29/10/2018 - 7 minutes

Here’s the list of the European biotech companies, both public and private, that are worth more than a billion-euro in 2018.

European biotech is growing steadily and this year we welcome a few new names to the list of billion-euro biotechs. We also had to say goodbye to some of them.

Following the lead of Actelion — which used to be Europe’s largest biotech until its massive €28Bn acquisition in 2017 — the Belgian antibody developer Ablynx was acquired this year for €3.9Bn. Adaptimmune, a British immuno-oncology company that until recently had a market cap of over €1Bn, has recently suffered an important drop after releasing clinical data.

This year, 14 biotech companies in Europe have make it to the billion-euro club. 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.

For public companies in the list, note that the market cap fluctuates over time, so the numbers might have changed by the time you read this. For private companies, the numbers are approximate and sourced from the company or external analysts.

Market cap: €7.5Bn

Founded: 1999

Headquarters: Copenhagen, Denmark

Genmab is today the most valuable biotech in Europe. The company 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 US-based Medarex, the company focuses on developing antibody therapies for cancer, with two of them — J&J’s Darzalex and GSK’s Arzerra — already in the market making millions in sales every year.

Market cap: €5.1Bn

Founded: 1999

Headquarters: Mechelen, Belgium

Galapagos, listed on Euronext and the US Nasdaq, works in the field of inflammatory disease. Originally a service provider, the company transitioned to building its own drug discovery pipeline. Today, Galapagos is working with Gilead to test its lead compound in over 12 different indications, including rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Its CEO, Onno van de Stolpe, has been leading the company since he founded it nearly 20 years ago.

Market cap: €3.5Bn

Founded: 1998

Headquarters: Cambridge, UK

GW Pharmaceuticals is known for developing treatments based on compounds derived from cannabis. Its drug Sativex was approved in the UK in 2010 as a treatment to alleviate symptoms of multiple sclerosis. This year, a second drug called Epidiolex has been approved in the US as a treatment for two rare forms of epilepsy. The news gave a significant boost to the company’s stock on the London Stock Exchange and the US Nasdaq.

Market cap: €2.6Bn

Founded: 1992

Headquarters: Martinsried, Germany

Listed on the Frankfurt stock exchange and the US Nasdaq, MorphoSys is focused on the development of antibody treatments. In 2017, 25 years after its foundation, the company launched its first antibody — Tremfya, a drug for psoriasis developed with Janssen. The company has partnerships with other big pharma such as Novartis, GSK, Roche and Bayer, but as CEO Simon Moroney told us, MorphoSys is now also seeking to develop some of the antibodies on its pipeline on its own.

Market cap: €2.6Bn

Founded: 2017

Headquarters: Allschwil, Switzerland

Idorsia is a unique case in Europe, as it was practically born a billion-euro biotech. The company was born as a spin-off of Actelion following its record €28Bn acquisition in 2017. The early-stage R&D programs of Actelion were put into a new company initially valued at €920M. Its CEO, Jean-Paul Clozel, previously CEO of Actelion, has stated that his plan for Idorsia is to create another Actelion.

Market cap: €2.5Bn

Founded: 1993

Headquarters: Hamburg, Germany

A drug discovery company, Evotec has grown to cover a wide range of disease areas, including neuroscience, diabetes, inflammation, oncology, and infectious diseases. With over 2,400 employees worldwide, the company is partnered with every major pharma and has recently started pioneering new models of collaboration with academic partners.

Market cap: €2.5Bn

Founded: 2008

Headquarters: Breda, The Netherlands

Argenx has a unique spin on antibody engineering. Its technology is inspired on the antibodies of llamas, which are quite similar to those of humans while recognizing very different disease targets. The company has a pipeline of antibody drugs targeting inflammatory and autoimmune disease as well as cancer. After listing on Euronext in 2014, the company went public on the US Nasdaq last year with an overperforming IPO.  

Approx. valuation (private): €1.5Bn

Founded: 2005

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 company is now working on an even smaller device that can be plugged to a smartphone to sequence DNA anywhere you go. Many of its employees used to work for Solexa, the company that pioneered the sequencing technology used today by Illumina, the biggest in the DNA sequencing market.

Approx. valuation (private): €1.4Bn

Founded: 2000

Headquarters: Tübingen, Germany

CureVac is a pioneer in messenger RNA therapies — a technology used to give the body the instructions to produce a medicine on its own. The company is developing treatments for multiple indications, including cancer and vaccines for infectious disease. After many challenges seeking supporters for a brand new technology, the company has managed to sign partnerships worth billions and become one of the most advanced in the now increasingly popular mRNA field.

Market cap: €1.1Bn

Founded: 2014

Headquarters: London, UK

A spin-off of University College London, Autolus develops a new, safer generation of CAR-T cell therapy — a technology that has shown unprecedented efficacy in treating certain forms of cancer but can carry life-threatening side effects. The company made its debut on the US Nasdaq in June and rapidly managed to join the billion-euro club.

Approx. valuation (private): €1Bn

Founded: 2008

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, but it is also studying the potential of the technology in the fight against infectious diseases such as AIDS and tuberculosis in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Market cap: €1Bn

Founded: 2015

Headquarters: London, UK

The latest addition to the billion-euro club is Orchard Therapeutics, which made it to the list after an IPO on the US Nasdaq that put the company’s initial market cap at €1Bn. The company is developing gene therapies for multiple genetic conditions, and is known for having acquired Strimvelis, a gene therapy initially marketed by GSK that Orchard intends to make the most of by shipping the therapy to the patients instead of moving them to a specific medical center.

Market cap: €1Bn

Founded: 2002

Headquarters: Bagneux, France

DBV Technologies is working on a technology against food allergies, which can be life-threatening, especially for young children. The company has just submitted an application to the FDA to get approval for its first therapy, against peanut allergy, despite initial uncertainty regarding its efficacy. Its second therapy, for milk allergy, is about to start late-stage clinical development. DBV is listed on both Euronext Paris and the US Nasdaq.

Market cap: €1Bn

Founded: 1999

Headquarters: Paris, France

Cellectis was initially a company focused on providing genetic engineering tools and services. When CRISPR/Cas9 arrived, making gene editing faster and cheaper than ever, the company pivoted into developing CAR-T cell therapies for cancer. Cellectis is using its gene editing expertise to develop a new generation of CAR-T that can be sourced from donors. Earlier this year, the company got the rights to the use of CRISPR/Cas9 technology to engineer T-cells, making it the gatekeeper for any other company that wants to work in the same area. 

Images via Shutterstock

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