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18 March, 2022 - 12:52 By Tony Quested

o2h unveils new investment opportunities following latest successes

Sharply focused funding steered by o2h Ventures in Cambridge is bearing fruit for biotechnology enterprises in the Cluster and UK-wide. 

Many of the companies growing with o2h support stem from academia and all the businesses involved have propositions that will have a positive impact on patient care across a range of research and treatment disciplines.

The clock is now ticking on involvement in a fresh initiative with an HMRC-sensitive April 5 deadline.

Sunil Shah, who co-leads the o2h Ventures effort, said success to date had been achieved despite the handicap of the coronavirus pandemic.

He says: “In a post pandemic era, investors are now well versed in the impact that biotechnology can have all over the world with real products that can generate value for investors and patients. 

“The pandemic did teach us how to bring new drugs to patients faster, lessons that the industry will no doubt pick-up and implement.  

“We at o2h Ventures have stayed focused on building and supporting our portfolio of biotech therapeutics. We have now invested in 25 companies over the last three years from the fund with an increase in asset value across the board of ~150 per cent excluding any tax relief and fees. 

“We expect clinical data read out from Exonate and Small Pharma in the next few months and others will follow as the portfolio matures.  

“We are pleased to announce that we are likely to deploy more than 90 per cent of the KI EIS Funds raised last year in the next <1 month. The next close of our ‘HMRC approved’ Knowledge Intensive Human Health EIS Fund is on the 5th April 2022. We will need to have cleared funds in our bank account by this date as we report this to HMRC.

“The subscriptions we receive by 5th April can be used to back-claim tax benefits to the 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 tax years even though the funds will be deployed in the following years, due to our special HMRC approved KI status.”

To top-up or invest, visit www.o2hventures.com or email invest [at] o2h.com and one of the team will guide you through the process. 

Deals Under Execution 

• Spirea, a biotech company spun out from the University of Cambridge, is committed to delivering the next generation of antibody drug conjugate (ADC) therapeutics to revolutionise cancer treatment and improve the lives of patients.

• Neurocentrx Pharma, a Scotland-based company, has developed oral ketamine formulations, Keticap™ IR (immediate release) and Keticap™ AD (abuse-deterrent) intended to treat mood disorders like depression more effectively.

Deals under due diligence or late stage investing include:-

• A spin-out from the University of Nottingham to spinout a pipeline of novel integrin inhibitors for the treatment of fibrotic diseases. An o2h Ventures led investment with earlier rounds to be exclusive to o2h Ventures and Nottingham University. There is commercial interest from a mid-size pharma. o2h Ventures has worked with the tech transfer office to place management and work on the business plan.

• A spin-out of the University of Sussex focused on the exploitation of novel and proprietary inhibitors of the enzyme alternative oxidase (AOX) to treat a wide range of multi-drug and multi compound resistant species of fungi that now threaten human health and food security worldwide.  o2h is working to build an appropriate syndicate for this investment.

• Stingray Bio is a spin out from the University of Sussex, building on innovative science to generate novel therapies to help improve the quality of life for oestrogen sensitive breast cancer patients and potentially other cancer indications.

• Exonate is a spinout from the University of Nottingham that aims to introduce a revolutionary, game-changing eye drop for the treatment of retinal vascular diseases, including wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration (wAMD) and Diabetic Macular Oedema (DME), by using mRNA targeted therapies. The company has a commercial collaboration with Janssen Pharmaceuticals (J&J).

• The Neurofenix NeuroBall can be used with little or no supervision, making it ideal for both survivors as well as therapists who want to maximise their patient’s potential in between sessions. The company has now launched in the USA and has positive commercial traction. 

• Monument Therapeutics is a specialist neuroscience company pairing digital biomarkers with existing small molecules to provide novel approaches to CNS drug development. Further funds are required to embark on clinical trials. 

• An AI drug discovery company specialising in cardiovascular disease, first focusing on coronary artery disease. The company is leveraging AI to structure and integrate multi-omic datasets to create the most holistic and representative overview of the disease's metabolic pathways for novel drug target identification and drug repurposing.

• Five Alarm Bio is developing a small molecule approach to boost the body’s defence to ageing, based on a new understanding of how the chemical damage associated with age accumulates in cells. In addition to a broad range of age-related diseases, Five Alarm Bio sees relevance of its platform for cosmeceuticals.

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