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15 September, 2011 - 07:21 By Tony Quested

Horizon Discovery raises $18.6 million expansion cash

Horizon Discovery CEO, Darrin Disley

Horizon Discovery, the Cambridge based personalised medicines pioneer has raised £11.3 million ($18.6m) Series C funding to continue its global expansion strategy.

 And the company has packed more muscle onto its board with a number of high profile appointments.

The funding will support improvement of the company’s core technology platforms, strengthening of its IP position and expansion into new disease areas outside of its historical cancer focus.

Horizon will be taking on large numbers of new staff in the next 12 months in preparation for its IPO. The float looks like being H2,2013 unless unexpected major deals crop up – Horizon is believed to be working on one or two – or a new reagents business with a mega US partner, to be announced soon, takes off faster than expected.

The second closing was led by MVM Life Sciences LLP and was also subscribed to by a consortium of existing investors: DFJ Esprit LLP, Roche Venture Fund, Jonathan Milner (CEO of Abcam), David Evans, Peter Collins, Providence Investment Company Ltd (with involvement from Dr Hermann Hauser) and David Cleevely, chairman of Cambridge Wireless. The company has raised £13.9m since its seed investment in March 2008 and has achieved a 40 fold increase in valuation in the same period.

Horizon has also announced a number of appointments to strengthen its senior management team and board of directors. Joining the board, effective immediately, are Dr Martin Murphy, Dan Cowell and Peter Keen. David Evans a non-executive director has been appointed non-executive chairman taking over from Dr Darrin M Disley, who has been appointed CEO and will join Dan Cowell, chief operating officer, and Dr Chris Torrance, chief scientific officer as executive directors. Keen, an experienced non-executive director, will assume the role of part time chief financial officer.

David Evans, a qualified accountant, has many years' experience both as an executive and as a non-executive of publicly listed diagnostic and life science companies and has served on the Board of the following AIM listed companies; Immunodiagnostic System Plc, Epistem Plc, Omega Diagnostics Group Plc and Scancell Holdings Plc.

The new directors join Dr Jonathan Milner, who was appointed a non-executive director in February. Milner is an experienced entrepreneur and business leader with a background in genetic research. In 1998, he founded the internet-based business Abcam (AIM: ABC), the producer and distributor or research-grade antibodies and associated products with a market capitalization in excess of £600m.

Dr Martin Murphy of MVM Life Sciences LLP will become an investor director alongside Dr Nigel Pitchford of DFJ Esprit LLP who was appointed at the first closing.

Horizon’s mission is to provide its customers with cutting-edge biological tools and services that will accelerate the pace of development of ‘stratified’ or ‘personalised’ medicines.

In the last year the company has grown from 25 to more than 65 FTEs. In recent months, Horizon has secured several multi-million pound EUFP7 grants, closed numerous new customer deals and achieved a major milestone with a key pharmaceutical partner, which will release £6m of revenue over four years. The company is now well positioned to achieve its fourth consecutive year of over 100 per cent top-line growth.

Darrin Disley said: “On behalf of the board of directors, I would like to welcome David Evans to his position of Chairman and Dan Cowell, Peter Keen and Martin Murphy to the board. Their experience and expertise will be invaluable as we develop the company.

“Horizon is very pleased to add another blue-chip investor who shares our vision to build a world-leading translational genomics company and a UK Biotech company to be proud of.”

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Horizon Discovery CEO, Darrin Disley

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