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26 February, 2019 - 10:07 By Tony Quested

Shortlisted biotechs raised $200 million in 2018

Shortlisted life sciences companies in the Business Weekly Awards  raised more than $200 million in 2018 – and that’s excluding those deals for which figures were kept under wraps or amounts raised by Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award contenders.

Almost half that figure – $91.87m – was secured by Babraham Research Campus-based companies – Crescendo, PhoreMost and PredictImmune. Babraham Bioscience Technologies is itself a contender in this year’s Awards.

OKRA Technologies, an artificial intelligence data analytics company for healthcare, set the ball rolling with a $4.16m Series A led by entrepreneur and investor, Jim Cockburn.

In June, Chesterford Research Park-based Arecor secured $1.3m from Innovate UK to progress a collaboration designed to advance treatment of conditions such as diabetes. 

The company followed this up in September with a $7.77m equity investment led by UK institutional investors Calculus Capital, Downing Ventures, and Albion Capital with significant participation from Arecor’s existing backers. 

PredictImmune secured $5.57m in follow-on funding from the Wellcome Trust. PredictImmune had previously raised £4.7m Series A equity funding led by Parkwalk Opportunities Fund with co-investment from Cambridge Enterprise and Wren Capital. 

May blossomed for PhoreMost as the startup reeled in more than $16m. The company raised $15m in a Series-A round led by current investors Jonathan Milner, Amadeus Capital Partners, Cambridge Enterprise and cornerstone Parkwalk Advisors.

Morningside Ventures, a prolific backer of global biotech enterprises, was the principal new investor, with Dr Gerald Chan from Morningside joining the PhoreMost board. PhoreMost had previously raised $1.3m for a joint venture with sister company NeoPhore,

Owlstone Medical had another successful year raising $50m to progress its disease breathalyser concept.

The company’s first financing round was led by Aviva Ventures, the venture capital arm of Aviva plc, a global leader in insurance, and Horizons Ventures, the private investment arm of Li Ka-shing.

Horizons Ventures  led the follow-on $35m funding and was joined by a group of highly regarded global strategic investors including Ventura Capital in Dubai and Foxconn Technologies Group in Taiwan.

Microbiotica, formed to exploit microbiome science built at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, secured $5.18m from Paris-based Seventure Partners – a specialist investor in the microbiome – which joined founding backers Cambridge Innovation Capital and IP Group.

Rare disease specialist Healx raised $10m in a Series A round led by European-leading early stage venture backer Balderton Capital. Existing investors Jonathan Milner and  Hermann Hauser’s Amadeus Capital also participated.

Fluidic Analytics secured $31m in November in a round led by Draper Esprit. Joining the round as new investors were Delin Ventures and BGF, making its largest life sciences investment to date and first in Cambridge. 

IQ Capital and Amadeus Capital Partners joined Draper Esprit in backing Fluidic Analytics for a third successive time since the company’s first financing in 2015.

Chesterford Research Park-based Evonetix raised c$14m in 2018. The company, led by CEO Tim Brears, attracted $12.3m in January. The financing was co-led by DCVC (Data Collective) of Palo Alto and European-based Draper Esprit, and included the Morningside group, alongside existing investors Providence Investment Company (Jersey), Cambridge Consultants, and San Francisco duo Rising Tide Fund and Civilization. The company attracted an additional £1.3 million from Innovate UK in July.

Crescendo Biologics attracted $70m in April from backers in France and China. Series B financing saw French investor Andera Partners and Chinese backer Quan Capital come fresh to the party. 

The Series B round was led by Andera Partners (formerly Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners) with Europe’s largest life science fund Biodiscovery V, and joined by Quan Capital with its leading life sciences fund, Quan Venture Fund I, and Crescendo’s existing investors Sofinnova Partners, IP Group, EMBL and Takeda Ventures. 

Altogether, the Cambridge biotechnology community companies raised $521.69m in 2018. That figure was taken close to the $billion mark by two IPOs that saw Acacia Pharma raise $46.23m and GW Pharma secure more than $352m on NASDAQ.

Former Awards winner CMR Surgical, led by Martin Frost, raised $100m – the largest ever private financing of a medical devices company in Europe. The $100m came from new investor the Zhejiang Silk Road Fund and existing investors Escala Capital Investments, LGT, Cambridge Innovation Capital and Watrium. Artios Pharma raised $84m.

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