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24 November, 2021 - 11:47 By Tony Quested

Cambridge Cluster deal-flow shows no sign of slowing

Cambridge Cluster deals in the last 12 calendar months have held steady following a record year in 2019-20.

Last year we reported deals totalling $66.85 billion. Charting a period from early November 2020 to the end of October 2021, the haul this time around had topped $56.26bn – but that excludes a bid by NVIDIA for Arm. Approvals for the transaction from the UK, EU, China and US are awaited so this is far from a done deal.

Biotechnology transactions account for the majority of the $56.26bn deals total in the last year – $50bn involving M & A and the rest topped up by IPO and general funding. General technology deals accounted for around $3bn of the remainder, with IPOs in the segment totalling $2.29bn.

Financial advisers and law firms in the region tell Business Weekly they have record deals pipelines with deep-pocketed US and Asian investors primed to swoop for targets based in the region.

November 2020
The last year’s Deals figures are not as obviously transparent as we would like as many firms ducked behind ‘undisclosed’ agreements. No official figure could be nailed to F-star’s NASDAQ bow in November, for example. November 2020 was nevertheless momentous for life science transactions involving local firms.

Horizon Discovery was sold to PerkinElmer for $383 million; well-heeled Achilles Therapeutics raised more than $71m and Congenica a $50m Series C. And these were only the headline deals. Good money in smaller tranches was commonplace as startups scaled up and established players topped up.

December 2020
Cambridge Quantum stole the December headlines as it completed a $45m financing while there were healthy hauls for Endomag, Adrestia Therapeutics, IQGeo, Arkessa, Sunlight and 8power.Image courtesy of Kymab

January 2021
Just as deals are often rushed through to beat the Christmas break so transactions can be slow as January rolls around. Not this time! Therapeutic antibody company Kymab (pictured above) was acquired by Sanofi for a reported $1.45bn, while games developer Jagex was sold for the second time in eight months for an estimated $1/2bn.

The New Year continued to be lucrative for the region as Total Capital Partners invested $22.88m in PCML, Riverlane clinched a $20m Series A, Wren Therapeutics added $127m to its war chest, and Xampla, Turbine.ai and Sano Genetics posted significant raises.

February 2021
What a month this turned out to be for financial transactions in terms of variety and volume! The headline deal was the $7.2bn swoop by Irish company Jazz for fellow NASDAQ business GW Pharma. PayPoint completed a $94.21m acquisition of Handepay Limited and Merchant Rentals.

Inivata, a market leader in liquid biopsy technology, took its Series C round to $60m with a fresh $35m raise. There were significant fundraising rounds for Acacia Pharma, Nyobolt, Avacta, Optibrium and Charco; 4basebio floated on AIM in the UK.

March 2021
In the lively world of real estate, Connells completed the $174.96m takeover of Countrywide. Syncona cornerstoned a $148m Series C in eye disease tech specialist Gyroscope Tx. Out of left field, Cambridge biotech Eliem stormed out of stealth $80m richer with a vision to accelerate clinical programs addressing large markets with substantial unmet needs.

Chronic pain, depression, epilepsy and anxiety are some of the areas Eliem Therapeutics plans to address with its huge war chest and a five-star team of executives.

Cambridge biopharma business PhoreMost raised $46 million in an oversubscribed Series B round to accelerate key treatments into the clinic.The round was led by BGF, the UK’s most active growth economy investor, and included new investors XtalPi Inc. – anchored in Beijing and Boston US – Astellas Venture Management in California, Trend Investment Group, and Cambridge’s o2h ventures. Existing investors Parkwalk Advisors, Morningside Ventures and serial life sciences entrepreneur Jonathan Milner also contributed.

The funding will be used to progress PhoreMost’s preclinical ‘Allosteric PLK1’ collaboration with Sentinel Oncology into the clinic in 2022. The programme is initially targeted towards Glioma (brain tumours). NeoPhore meanwhile raided $20.48m Series B cash. There were important rounds for FocalPoint Positioning, Dunad Therapeutics, Monavate, FetchAI, Arecor and many others.Courtesy of Darktrace

April 2021
No doubt about the headline grabber here. Cyber security world leader Darktrace (above) lowered its UK IPO target expectations in the wake of a disastrous public bow by Deliveroo. It need not have worried. Darktrace was valued at $2.29bn on float, and at one stage recently, was close to a $10bn market cap. The long-awaited US IPO for Achilles Therapeutics realised $175.5m.

Cambridge then produced another blockbusting transaction as US investors backed a phenomenal $82m Series A for young startup Alchemab, which is advancing a unique target-agnostic drug discovery platform.

Cambridge startup Mestag, which is fighting inflammatory disease and cancer, launched with $11 million seed cash from healthcare backers SV Health Investors and Johnson & Johnson Innovation.

May 2021
It was revealed that AI technology from Cambridge could be set to revolutionise global health and beauty markets through an acquisition by a NASDAQ-quoted Californian company. Amyris Inc, a leading synthetic biotech business acquired BeautyLabs for an undisclosed fee. BeautyLabs was founded and steered by Mark Gerhard, the entrepreneur behind video games companies Jagex and PlayFusion. 

Eliem Therapeutics, which had made such a sensational bow, stole more headlines after raising $60m Series B financing – taking its haul to date to $140m.

World-leading cell therapy pioneer Mogrify took its Series A round to $33 million with a $17m second closing. The company is transforming the development of ex vivo cell therapies and steering a new class of in vivo reprogramming therapies. This second close of the company’s Series A was led by Parkwalk Advisors and incorporated additional funding from strategic corporate pharma investor Astellas Venture Management, as well as 24Haymarket, co-founder of Abcam Dr Jonathan Milner and Mogrify CEO, Dr Darrin Disley.

Marshall Motor Group acquired Cheltenham and Gloucester Jaguar Land Rover from Heritage Automotive for an undisclosed sum. Phico raised a fresh $9.43m to scale its fight against superbugs. Amino Technologies plc acquired Nordija, a Danish streaming and Pay TV platform specialist, for $6.5m.

NASDAQ powerhouse NeoGenomics Inc exercised its right to hoover up the whole of Cambridge liquid biopsy specialist Inivata. Having made a $25m minority investment in the Cambridge UK business, Florida-based 

NeoGenomics took up a fixed price option to buy the remainder for a further $390m. NeoGenomics is a leading provider of cancer-focused genetic testing services and global oncology contract research services. Inivata is a Cambridge Innovation Capital investee company.Courtesy of CMR Surgical

June 2021
What a deal this was to spark a sizzling summer of activity! CMR Surgical (above), the Cambridge-based global surgical robotics business, smashed all MedTech fundraising efforts with a new round that took its cash haul in recent years to just shy of $1billion. The round gave the business a valuation of more than $3bn. Arm’s parent SoftBank in Japan co-led the $600m Series D through its Vision Fund 2ii. The round was co-led by China’s Ally Bridge Group and will support the company’s mission to make keyhole surgery accessible to more people worldwide.

The heat was maintained as Cambridge Quantum announced it was combining with Honeywell Quantum Solutions, establishing the world’s most advanced, fully integrated quantum computing company. Honeywell will also invest between $270 million and $300m in the new venture.

Portfolio-based biopharma venture Apollo Therapeutics expanded its Cambridge UK and Boston US operations after raising $145m growth capital. Cambridge CleanTech business Origami raised £20.5m new funding to help drive its next phase of growth. Barclays PLC led the round, investing as part of its Sustainable Impact Capital initiative.

Arecor made an excellent bow on London’s AIM market with its market cap soaring to $98.9m at one point during its first day of trading. Arecor’s chairman Dr Andy Richards said: “Arecor has the potential to become a significant UK biopharmaceutical company and deliver benefits to patients and clinicians.”

Canadia’s OMERS Ventures led a $19m funding round in Agile Analog, a Cambridge-based supplier of highly configurable process node agnostic analogue IP building blocks.

DeepTech software business VividQ (below) closed a super-seed extension round of $15m to fast-track its computer-generated holography to global markets. Its technology is used in the development of next-generation digital displays and devices by manufacturers in the US, China and Japan.

Cambridge startup Transine Therapeutics emerged from stealth with $12.3m seed funding – co-led by Takeda Ventures, Inc. and the Dementia Discovery Fund – to advance a novel class of therapeutic RNA to combat hard-to-treat diseases.

Foundries.io, a leader in cloud development and deployment solutions for secure IoT and Edge devices, raised $8m in Series A funding led by IQ Capital, with participation from Crane Venture Partners and Backed VC.Courtesy of VividQ

July 2021
AstraZeneca’s $39 billion acquisition of Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc was finalised while Vectura announced that it had been bought for $1.2bn by Philip Morris International. 

Artios Pharma in Cambridge raised $153m Series C cash to advance its portfolio of cancer drug candidates. Omega Funds in Boston and TCG X in New York and California led the seminal round for the Babraham-based business.

Dutch-based global lighting company Signify acquired Telensa in Cambridge for an undisclosed sum to expand its smart city infrastructure portfolio.

Biocrucible was acquired for an undisclosed sum by Sapphiros, a new platform dedicated to building the next generation of diagnostic technologies. It was launched by Wall Street quoted global investment power player KKR.

Inkjet printing technology business Xaar plc completed a $12.2m acquisition of FFEI to broaden its capabilities.Andy Harter

August 2021
Cambridge technology innovator RealVNC, a global market leader, was acquired for an undisclosed sum by Livingbridge – a mid-market private equity firm operating across the UK, US and Australia. Andy Harter (above), co-founder of RealVNC said: “The acquisition by Livingbridge represents the next stage in the evolution of RealVNC and is a strong endorsement of our product innovation, global reach and most of all, our talented team at RealVNC.

Less than six months after emerging from stealth, Eliem Therapeutics, Inc raised $92 million through an oversubscribed NASDAQ IPO.

Mestag Therapeutics in Cambridge closed an oversubscribed seed round extension to take the total to $45m. The extension of $34m was led by Amsterdam-based investment firm Forbion with global healthcare investors GV (formerly Google Ventures) and Northpond Ventures and supported by founding investors SV Health Investors, and Johnson & Johnson Innovation.

Echion Technologies, a Cambridge-based leading developer of next-generation materials for Lithium-Ion batteries, completed a $12.3m Series A.

September 2021
Global investors piled into a $58m Owlstone Medical Series D round led by returning backer Horizons Ventures and joined by other existing and high-profile new investors from Asia, the Middle East and the United States.

Heavyweight Chinese, Japanese and US backing allowed Cambridge animal healthtech company PetMedix™ to complete an oversubscribed $37 million Series B round to advance its innovative pipeline through clinical development.

A Cambridge company that helps fruit growers boost their harvest, be more efficient and increase sustainability by using drone technology and artificial intelligence closed its first funding round at $1m. Outfield (below) provides an orchard management and yield estimation system for high-value fruit crops like apples, pears and plums, which has generated sufficient traction that it’s already in use on most continents. It works with growers in the UK, Europe, South Africa, Chile and New Zealand.Courtesy of Outfield

October 2021
Abcam sealed its $340m acquisition of BioVision. A wholly-owned subsidiary of Chinese company Boai NKY Medical Holdings Ltd, BioVision is a fast-growing innovator and distributor of life science research tools to biopharma, diagnostic and academic customers, with strength in biochemical and cell-based assay kits. Bicycle Therapeutics closed a placement of American Depositary Shares, which brought in gross proceeds of $201.3m.

PragmatIC Semiconductor, the Cambridge-based global player in flexible electronics, raised $80m of Series C funding. The scale-up investment will be used to build a second FlexLogIC fab in the North East of England to meet the growing demand for ultra-low-cost flexible integrated circuits (FlexICs) for the Internet of Everything - and to strengthen the position of the UK in its ambition to be a leading designer and manufacturer of next-generation semiconductors.

Sphere Fluidics, a Cambridge company commercialising single cell analysis systems, closed a $40m investment round. It was co-led by Paris-based Sofinnova Partners and San Francisco investor Redmile Group.

techspert.io, a Cambridge-based AI technology innovator connecting businesses with experts for domain-specific industry insights, closed a $12m funding round led by BGF and existing backer Nauta Capital, a pan-European VC firm.

New Zealand’s Infratil, a listed global infrastructure business, agreed to invest up to $174.96m in Kao Data, the UK developer and operator of advanced data centres. 

The indefatigable Marshall Motor Holdings acquired Motorline Holdings for $87m cash, adding 48 franchises to the quoted group.

What next?
While November 2021 cannot be counted officially in our 12-month deals round-up, it is worth noting as we contemplate what the rest of this year and the start of 2022 hold, that Cambridge Epigenetix (CEGX) - a life sciences tools and technology company revolutionising genome sequencing - has recently signed an $88m Series D financing, bringing the total funds raised to date to $146m.

Cambridge life science pioneer Closed Loop Medicine has raised $17m in an oversubscribed funding round and the much-vaunted bit.bio – already slated as a potential synthetic biology world leader – hauled in $103m in a stunning Series B round. 

LoQus23 Therapeutics has closed a £7 million extended seed round from Novartis Venture Fund (NVF) and its founding investor the Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF). This round follows an initial £4.5 million seed investment by the DDF in 2019.

Most recently, ieso, a leader in digital mental healthcare, completed a $53 million Series B financing round led by investment firm Morningside, with new backing from Sony Innovation Fund and existing shareholders IP Group, Molten Ventures and Ananda Impact Ventures.

There are a lot more deals to come, and the life sciences and DeepTech are likely to be in the vanguard.

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