Companies developing lab automation, ophthalmological treatments, and novel foods received Europe’s top biotech investments in February 2022.
European and Israeli biotech investments in February 2022 narrowly beat January’s performance. Life sciences companies in these regions bagged 52 private investments and initial public offerings (IPOs), worth €664M in total. Meanwhile, January’s tally was 41 deals totaling €660M. Neither month matched the biotech investment highs of December 2021.
After a funding slump in January, industrial biotechnology companies recovered in February with private fundraising close to €100M. This rally was driven by funding flowing into the food and agribiotech sectors. Additionally, enabling technologies, such as lab automation and protein manufacturing, received big investor attention.
The bulk of healthcare biotech investments went to specialists in cancer, which commonly attract most of the investment within life sciences. Unlike previous months, ophthalmology was also under the investor spotlight in February.
February echoed January’s modest biotech IPO performance in comparison to 2021’s massive offerings. Two European biotech IPOs took place in February, with the biggest launched by the neurology firm Aelis Farma. The company raised €25M in the biggest biotech IPO on Euronext Paris in five years (measured by market capitalization).
Meanwhile, the UK company TC BioPharm raised €15M in a Nasdaq IPO that had an initial target of €45M. The cell therapy firm’s share price fell below the IPO price after it floated on the Nasdaq, indicating a disappointing outcome for the company.
Two European companies that raised the biggest biotech investments in February were specialists in ophthalmology: Eyebiotech and SpliceBio. Their Series A winnings confirmed that eye disorder treatments remain a hot topic in the biotech space, especially for developers of gene therapies.
Another impressive funding round was closed by the Dutch company Protix. The firm will use the €50M proceeds to scale up its insect farming technology, providing sustainable alternatives to animal feed sources.
Large rounds by Automata and Scopio Labs indicate a big appetite for lab automation in the life sciences scene. Automata aims to streamline diagnostics and drug discovery procedures using robotics. Scopio Labs, in turn, specializes in speeding up cell microscopy with the help of artificial intelligence (AI).
There was a surge in Series A rounds in February. Following the big cash going to Eyebiotech and SpliceBio, stand-out rounds include a fundraising by TargED Biopharmaceuticals. With a fresh €39M in the bank, the company aims to develop stroke treatments that are faster and safer than current medications.
In another leading Series A round, the UK firm Centauri Therapeutics received €28M from backers including Boehringer Ingelheim, Evotec, and Novo Holdings. The company is developing an immunotherapy drug to tackle antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
Similar to Series A funding, February saw a big influx in European biotech startup funding compared to January, including seed and pre-seed rounds. At €10M, the biggest seed financing was raised by Onego Bio in Finland, a company using precision fermentation technology to produce artificial egg white. The goal is to provide a more sustainable alternative to conventional poultry farming.
Haya Therapeutics was also one of the biggest seed fundraising companies. The leading Swiss startup announced a seed extension round of €4.4M in addition to its expansion to the US.
Additionally, companies developing bioinformatics technology continued their fundraising streak, including Zetta Genomics and Nostros Genomics.
The muted IPO market for Europe’s biotech companies occurs amid a continuing slump in biotech stocks across the board. TC Biopharm struggled to meet its own initial IPO target in spite of developing cancer cell immunotherapies, one of the hottest fields in biotechnology.
Another factor negatively impacting companies developing cell therapies and gene therapies is the steady stream of safety concerns in clinical trials. The Belgian firm Celyad is one of the latest to pause a trial of its CAR-T therapy for solid tumors while the firm investigates two patient deaths.
The recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia has also blindsided the European biotech industry, with many firms in the region directly impacted. Consequences for the rest of the industry will likely include financial uncertainty, clinical trial disruption, and growing cyber threats.
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Cover image via Elena Resko. IPO tips via Bertrand Delsuc, founder of Biotech Radar.
9 March 2021: Article updated to correct the subsector of NMD Pharma to Central Nervous System.