Initial public offerings by European biotech companies were hot in September, and companies developing technologies including sequencing and bioinformatics received big private and public investments.
Last month, European and Israeli biotech companies raised over €1.5B in 42 deals, which included initial public offerings (IPOs) and private financing rounds. This was more than triple the total catch in August, which saw €466.8M raised in 26 deals.
Roughly half of the cash — €782.4M — came from four IPOs. The star position went to the UK sequencing heavyweight Oxford Nanopore Technologies, which took home €407.4M (£330M) from its listing on the London Stock Exchange. A Nasdaq IPO worth €302.6M ($350M) flushed compatriot firm Exscientia with cash to scale up its artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted drug discovery technology.
IPOs in European stock markets also went to Afyren and Genetic Analysis, which respectively are developing sustainable chemicals manufacturing and diagnostics based on the microbiome.
Leading the private fundraisers, the French pharmaceutical firm Provepharm Life Solutions topped up its bank account with €122.9M in equity investments. The company specializes in repurposing well-known molecules for the treatment of different indications to their original purpose. Provepharm sells a variety of treatments for conditions including clinical depression, migraine, and blood disorders.
Two companies on the leaderboard focus on cell therapy. One was the French firm TreeFrog, which raised €64.8M to develop next-generation biomanufacturing technology and advance its lead candidate into phase I. The other was SmartCella Holding in Sweden, which took home €32.7M in an investment round. The proceedings will let SmartCella’s subsidiary, Procella Therapeutics, co-develop with AstraZeneca a regenerative therapy to heal the heart after a heart attack.
Additionally, UK companies developing diagnostics, genomics, and other enabling technologies received major biotech investments to support their aims. The firm Touchlight Genetics manufactures DNA molecules, Lifebit is gunning to take genomics into the cloud, and Owlstone Medical is developing a way to detect cancer in the breath of patients.
Companies developing enabling technologies were a big focus in the top biotech seed rounds in September. Leading the pack, Spanish company Celtarys raised €6.6M to bankroll the development of fluorescence-based tools to speed up drug discovery. Meanwhile, Seqera Labs in Spain and Zetta Genomics and Wobble Genomics in the UK also had their crosshairs on developing sequencing and genomics strategies.
Cell therapy featured strongly in rounds by EsoBiotec in Belgium, Hemostod in Switzerland, and the new Finnish startup StemSight.
With a haul of four Series A rounds, September saw a drop from the seven total in August. The biggest came from the Swiss firm Anjarium Biosciences, which attracted €52.1M in biotech investments to package and deliver gene therapies to the patient’s cells via next-generation non-viral vectors.
Another notable Series A round went to the microbiome specialist Enterobiotix, whose €18.1M winnings will accelerate the development of treatments for bacterial infections, which are sorely needed due to the rise of antibiotic resistance.
The German company Formo (previously known as Legendairy Foods) also made a splash with an impressive €42M round to fund the production of milk and cheese using cultured microorganisms rather than animals.
September saw other major advances across biomedical and industrial biotech sectors. An example in the healthcare space was the final closing of the first fund by the venture capital firm Jeito, which raked in a massive €534M to fuel the development of disease treatments. And the industrial biotech field hit a milestone with the foundation of the Novo Nordisk Foundation CO2 Research Center — the first center dedicated to capturing carbon dioxide from the air and harnessing it as a raw material.
The month of October is likely to see a heavy presence of biotech investments focused on oncology. We’ve already seen a €65M Series B round from the German immuno-oncology company iOmx Therapeutics and a €10.4M investment in the UK firm Entia, which is developing a way for cancer patients to test their blood at home to track their treatment effects.
Additionally, investor interest is likely to continue in vaccine technology as the EMA opened the way for Covid-19 booster doses from BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna last week.
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14 October 2021: Corrected to remove mention of NH Theraguix, which cancelled its IPO.
Cover image via Elena Resko.