The Top European Biotech Investments in December

January 5, 2022 - 4 minutes

December 2021 ended with a bang for biotech funding in Europe and Israel, with cultured meat and cell therapy startups attracting the biggest investment rounds.

Biotech companies in Europe and Israel capped off 2021 with a very strong month of fundraising. Collectively, private companies and those launching initial public offerings (IPOs) banked almost €1.6B in 43 biotech investment deals.

The December total was roughly 30% larger than November’s haul of €1.2B. Only €58M of December’s winnings came from biotech IPOs, in contrast to the €515M collected from biotech IPOs in November.

Genenta Science launched the biggest European biotech IPO of December, raising almost €32M on the Nasdaq. The Italian firm is developing a gene therapy that penetrates solid tumors and produces proteins activating the immune system against the cancer cells. 

In second place, Aptamer Group raised over €12M on the London-based stock market AIM to fund the development of single-stranded oligonucleotides called aptamers for use in therapeutics, diagnostics, and research.

The Israeli startup Future Meat Technologies raised the biggest biotech investment round of the month. The company’s €308M Series B round was the biggest-ever investment for any firm developing cultured meat, which is harvested from cultured animal cells rather than animal slaughterhouses.

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The Czech immuno-oncology player Sotio Biotech grabbed second place with a huge €281M investment. The company is developing a variety of cancer treatments, including a CAR-T therapy and an antibody-drug conjugate (ADC).

In third place came the Swiss firm Quercis Pharma. Quercis took home €133M to advance treatments for potentially deadly blood clots in cancer patients. The small molecule drugs are designed to treat venous thromboembolism without increasing the risk of bleeding as many current treatments do.

Two Series A rounds stood out from the pack in December. The biggest was worth €87M and went to the German firm Emergence Therapeutics. Emergence is one of many companies developing a new generation of ADC treatments for cancer that are more effective than current ADCs while causing fewer adverse effects.

The UK startup AviadoBio raised the second-biggest Series A round, which was worth over €70M. The money will fuel the development of gene therapies for preventing frontotemporal dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.

The biggest seed round of December — an impressive €105M — went to the Israeli company 1E Therapeutics. The company, founded in 2021, has published little information about its projects, stating that it is developing drugs that target RNA molecules.

The seed round runner up, Corteria Pharmaceuticals, bagged almost €12M to fund the development of heart failure treatments. Corteria licensed its small molecule programs from Sanofi and will combine them with precision medicine to identify the heart failure patients most likely to benefit from the drugs.

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Another notable seed round of €5M went to the UK-US startup Phytoform Labs. The company is developing new breeds of crops using gene editing and artificial intelligence; it expects to market a tomato variety in 2022.

Outside of the biotech sphere, one notable medtech financing — a €65M Series C round — went to the firm ViCentra. The Dutch company is developing the world’s smallest insulin pump with the aim of improving options for the control of blood sugar in people with diabetes. 

The end of 2021 saw megarounds in the European and Israeli biotech investments scene. Additionally, investment firms closed new funds in rapid succession with the goal of nurturing biotech innovation around the world. The coming year is likely to usher in even more megarounds for private biotech firms in Europe, with immuno-oncology remaining one of the key attractions.

Other major draws for biotech investors will likely be cell and gene therapies in addition to synthetic biology players making society more sustainable.

Nonetheless, the path ahead for biotech IPOs hopefuls remains unclear. No big private biotech firms in Europe have filed for an IPO so far. Meanwhile, stock prices for public biotech companies remain in a volatile situation caused by a variety of fears including inflation and the ongoing pandemic.

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