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25 February, 2021 - 16:38 By Tony Quested

Stevenage companies keep spinning the money go-round

Achilles Therapeutics is exploring additional fundraising options this year which could include an IPO in the US. 

Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst-based Achilles said the timing and terms of any offering have not yet been determined and the company is watching the markets and events bearing on them before finalising its strategy.

As Business Weekly revealed last November, Achilles Therapeutics took its funding haul to just under £153 million in 14 months with a £52.7m Series C that month. It had raised £100m in September 2019. The clinical-stage biopharma company is developing personalised T cell therapies targeting clonal neoantigens – a novel class of tumour target.

Nasdaq is proving a lucrative trail for British biotechs. The East of England region now has GW Pharma (recently acquired Jazz Pharma for $7.2bn), Bicycle Therapeutics, Horizon Discovery (courtesy its acquisition by PerkinElmer), F-star (via its merger with Spring Bank) and Kymab (through its acquisition by Sanofi) quoted on Nasdaq.

SBC tenant Autolus Therapeutics plc, which is already on Nasdaq, recently raised around $115m through an offering in the US.

Autolus is a clinical-stage biopharma company developing next-generation programmed T cell therapies to treat cancer. Autolus has a pipeline of product candidates in development for the treatment of haematological malignancies and solid tumours.

Nasdaq quoted TCR2 Therapeutics Inc. raised around $140m through an underwritten public offering. TCR2 is a clinical-stage immunotherapy company with a pipeline of novel T cell therapies for patients suffering from cancer.

Another SBC company causing a stir is NeRRe Therapeutics – led by CEO Mary Kerr and an experienced management team which recently sold KaNDy Therapeutics to Bayer for $425m up front and a total potential deal value in excess of $1bn. 

The team is focused on unlocking the significant potential of orvepitant in IPF cough. NeRRe is backed by international life sciences investors Advent Life Sciences, Fountain Healthcare Partners, Forbion Capital Partners and OrbiMed, all of whom took part in a £23m Series B round in 2017. The company was founded in 2012 as a spin out from GSK.

New accelerator for biotech startups

Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC) has launched a free accelerator programme to give data-focused biotech startups the skills they need to get potential new drugs and therapies to market faster. The programme will run from May.

Companies chosen will take part in an 18-week programme during which they will have the chance to network and learn from experts in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. 

Start-ups will be able to build their expertise in structuring deals, accessing data, intellectual property and attract funding. 

At the end of the programme, founders will be able to pitch their ideas in front of leading investors and pharmaceutical experts.

Dr Sally Ann Forsyth OBE, CEO at SBC, said, “At Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, as a not-for-profit organisation, we are committed to enabling life science companies to connect, grow and succeed at every stage of their development. We are absolutely delighted to launch this programme which will help start-ups build their expertise, supporting them to establish the funding and relationships they need to move to the next level.”

Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst is a world-leading science park of global significance and is located at the centre of the largest cluster of cell and gene therapy companies in Europe. Since its opening in 2012, occupier companies have secured £1.6bn in funding and it has attracted over 40 high-profile occupier businesses and world-class research organisations to Stevenage.

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