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Fancy Funding Dress Codes for Start-ups in Life Science

Wesley Johnson
16 February 2022
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Phacilitate’s Wesley Johnson explores more top deals from the past month or so in the latest instalment of his investment blog series.  

According to recent data from London & Partners and Dealroom, the UK and US are driving forward rapid growth for the global healthcare sector. Their latest report found that $51.3 billion funds were pumped into global healthcare start-ups in 2021 

Furthermore, according to findings in this report, Europe is now the fastest growing region globally for healthcare, with European healthtech start-ups raising $8.1 billion in 2021, up from $1.7 billion in 2016 and growing at a rate of 4.9 times compared to North America at 3.5 times and Asia 3.7 times.

Research suggests that this phenomenal growth in Europe – and in particular in the UK – is being driven by the Golden Triangle of London, Oxford and Cambridge, which are home to five world class universities for life sciences and medicine, a world leading hub for research and development and dedicated funding and government support. As a result, London is now said to be the ‘leading hub’ for healthtech investment in Europe. 

So how are early-stage companies creating value to investors?  

At this years Advanced Therapies Week in Miami, I caught up with Bryan Poltilove from BroadOak Capital on how best early-stage companies across the Advanced Therapies space can create value and market themselves to investors.  

Bryan walked through the traditional tried-and-true considerations such as a sizable market opportunity, a compelling value proposition, a defensible IP position, and a strong management team. But entrepreneurs seeking funding should look beyond these ‘table stakes’ items. Bryan mentioned that in the first instance, a beachhead is critical to demonstrate market penetration. Within a total addressable market, companies should demonstrate traction within a much more targeted customer segment to raise the odds of acquiring funding.  

Furthermore, companies wishing to engage with investors should consider not just the financial considerations, but also the intangible value that the investor can provide, including the likes of industry connections, proactive leadership, and guidance, as well as the ability to support the company in follow-on funding rounds.  

In addition to all the fundamental considerations of the business, Bryan mentioned that the CEO should also have a compelling story that weaves together the company’s mission, key value drivers, and key decision points since its formation. 

Returning to the monthly round-up, below I have highlighted a series of the industry’s top deals for the month of January.      

Europe 

  • LifT BioSciences Raises $5 Million in Venture Financing 

LifT BioSciences Ltd, a biotech company developing immune-oncology cell therapies, has raised $5 million in venture financing. The finance was led by Starbloom Capital with participation from Jonathan Milner, Kizoo Technology Ventures and Downing Ventures. The company intends to use the proceeds to further develop its manufacturing technology to cost-effectively produce N-LifT, and fund preclinical in vivo work. | Read more >>  

  • Ori Biotech Raises over $100 million Series B funding  

Ori Biotech Ltd. (Ori), as leader in cell and gene therapy (CGT) manufacturing technology, announced that it has secured over $100 million in an oversubscribed Series B funding round. Ori will use the funds to further expand key personnel across all functions in order to rapidly transition through pre-commercialization to the launch of its innovative CGT manufacturing platform. The company is also launching its Lightspeed Early Access Program (LEAP) allowing select partners to gain pre-launch access to the Ori platform in 2022. | Read more >>  

Discover more about Ori Biotech and the team’s insights on the role of digital technologies in cell and gene therapy development, as well as their vision for the future of the industry, in this exclusive interview. Watch on demand, now >>  

North America 

  • Affinia Therapeutics Files Registration Statement for IPO of Shares for up to $100 Million  

Affinia Therapeutics Inc, an innovative gene therapy company, has filed a registration statement with the US Securities & Exchange Commission for IPO of shares of its common stock, to raise gross proceeds of up to $100 million. The company intends to use the proceeds to fund its ongoing and planned clinical and pre-clinical development, to fund continued development of ART platform and pipeline, to initiate buildout of GMP manufacturing plant, and the remainder for research and development activities, working capital and other general corporate purposes. | Source: Global Data on 15th February 2022 

  • Avenge Bio Raises $45 Million in Series A Financing 

Avenge Bio Inc, a biotechnology company engaged in developing an immunotherapy platform for the precision administration of potent immune effector molecules to treat solid tumours, has raised $45 million in Series A financing. The company intends to use the proceeds to advance Avenge Bio’s lead program, AVB-001, through the filing of an investigational new drug application and introduction into the clinic for the treatment of metastatic periotoneal cancers, with a primary focus on recurrent and refractory ovarian cancer. The company will also use the proceeds to continue the rapid development of its pipeline programs. | Read more >> 

  • SalioGen Therapeutics Raises $115 Million in Series B Financing 

Saliogen Therapeutics Inc, a gene coding company that develops potentially curative therapies for patients with inherited disorders has raised $115 million in oversubscribed Series B financing. The company intends to use the funds to continue building out the Gene Coding platform, expand the company’s team, establish manufacturing and automation capabilities critical for Gene Coding and accelerate the advancement of its preclinical programs. | Read more >>  

  • Elicera Therapeutics Acquires Patent Rights for Modified Adenovirus from Immunicum 

Elicera Therapeutics AB (Elicera), a clinical stage cell and gene therapy company that develops next generation immuno-oncological treatments based on enhanced oncolytic viruses and CAR T-cells, has acquired patent US 9,017,672 B2- a viral vector used in its candidate ELC-100 – from Immunicum, a biopharmaceutical company focused on hard-to-treat established tumors and the prevention of cancer recurrence. The transfer of the patent amounts to a total of €250,000 in payments, excluding potential milestones. | Read more >> 

  • Kriya Therapeutics Acquires Warden Bio 

Kriya Therapeutics, Inc, a fully integrated company pioneering novel technologies and therapeutics in gene therapy, has acquired Warden Bio, a company developing novel AAV-mediated gene therapies for glycogen storage disorders (GSDs). Under the agreement, Kriya has obtained exclusive rights to Warden Bio’s five preclinical gene therapy programs. The acquisition serves as the foundation for Kriya’s Rare Disease Division focused on the discovery and development of gene therapies for rare diseases. | Read more >>  

  • Boshengji Pharmaceutical Technology Raises Funds Through Series B Financing  

Boshengji Pharmaceutical Technology (Suzhou) Co Ltd, a tumour cell immunotherapy drug developer, has raised funds through Series B financing. The round of financing was jointly led by CICC Capital Fund and Huataixin. Pan Yi Bosheng and Huatong Capital joined the investment. The company intends to use the proceeds for the registration of clinical trials of Boshengji’s PA3-17 (CD7-CAR-T cell) injection, the IND application of TAA06 CAR-T cell injection for solid tumours, and overseas clinical trials expansion. | Source: Global Data on 15th February 2022 

  • Castle Creek Biosciences Acquires Novavita Thera 

Castle Creek Biosciences, Inc., a late-clinical stage cell and gene therapy company focused on developing and preparing to commercialise disease-modifying and potentially curative therapies for rare genetic diseases, has acquired Novavita Thera, Inc., a preclinical gene therapy company focused on rare liver and metabolic diseases. The acquisition expands Castle Creek’s technology platform by adding in vivo capabilities to its existing ex vivo approach, and broadens Castle Creek’s development pipeline beyond skin and connective tissue disorders to rare liver diseases. | Read more >>  

  • Maze Therapeutics Raises $190 Million in Private Financing  

Maze Therapeutics, a company translating genetic insights into new precision medicines, has raised $190 million in private financing. The company intends to use the funds to support advancement of its nine precision medicines programs for both rare and common genetically defined diseases with high unmet need, including its three most advanced programs, MZE001 for the treatment of Pompe disease, its APOL1 program for the treatment of chronic kidney disease and its ATXN2 program for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). | Read more >> 

  • GeoVax Labs Raises $10 Million in Private Placement of Shares and Warrants   

GeoVax Labs, Inc., a biotechnology company specialising in developing human vaccines and cancer immunotherapies, has raised $10 million through the private placement of 707,484 shares of common stock, 2,360,000 pre-funded warrants to purchase common stock and accompanying warrants to purchase an aggregate of up to 3,067,484 shares of common stock at a combined effective purchase price of $3.26. | Read more >> 

  • ProKidney to Merge with Social Capital Suvretta Holdings 

ProKidney LP (ProKidney), a clinical-stage cellular therapeutics company focused on chronic kidney disease (CKD), has entered into a definitive agreement to become a publicly traded company via a business combination with Social Capital Suvretta Holdings Corp. III (SCS), a special purpose acquisition company. The transaction is expected to deliver up to $825 million in gross cash proceeds, including the contribution of up to $250 million of cash held in SCS’s trust account, assuming no redemptions by SCS public shareholders, and a fully committed PIPE of $575 million at $10 per share. The proceeds will be primarily used to fund REACT’s Phase III development program, accelerate ProKidney’s manufacturing buildout, and ultimately prepare for the global commercial launch of REACT. | Read more >> 

  • dNovo Raises $2.7 Million in Seed Financing  

dNovo Inc, a company that engaged in developing a cure for hair loss by generating personalised hair stem cells, has raised $2.7 million in seed financing. The finance was provided by Y Combinator, Felicis Ventures, Soma Capital, Yintai Investment Company LLC. Other investors include Ataria Ventures, Duro Ventures, Pioneer Fund, Paul Buchheit, Jason Hodges, Max Kolysh, Joey Krug, Justin Mateen, Jean Pigozzi, Claudio Pinkus, and Charles Songhurst. | Read more >> 

  • Metagenomi Raises $175 Million in Series B Financing  

Metagenomi, a genetic medicines company with a versatile portfolio of next-generation gene editing tools, announced the completion of an up-sized and oversubscribed $175 million Series B financing. Proceeds from the financing will be used to advance Metagenomi’s lead in vivo and ex vivo gene editing therapeutic programs through preclinical development and into the clinic. This will include expansion of its manufacturing, automation and AI infrastructure, and further development of the company’s differentiated toolbox of next-generation gene editing systems. | Read more >> 

  • Minerve Biotechnologies Raises Additional $22.5 Million in Venture Financing  

Minerva Biotechnologies Corp., a developer of novel therapeutic and diagnostic agents, has raised $22.5 million of its planned $30 million venture financing, bringing to total proceeds to $24 million. To raise this finance, the company issued equity securities to additional 58 investors. Earlier on October 1, 2019, Minerva Biotechnologies raised $1.54 million of its planned $12 million venture financing round. To raise this finance, the company issued equity securities to seven investors. | Source: Global Data on 15th February 2022 

Middle East and Africa 

  • VBL Therapeutics Raises $16.8 Million in Venture Financing  

VBL Therapeutics, a clinical stage biotechnology company developing first-in-class for difficult-to-treat malignant solid tumours and immune or inflammatory indications, has raised €15 million in venture financing. The company intends to use the funds to support clinical development, CMC, and pre-commercialisation activities. The company has also received €2.5 million grant from European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator. | Read more >>  

Asia-Pacific 

  • SCG Cell Therapy Acquires iPSC Technology from A Star  

SCG Cell Therapy Pte Ltd, a clinical-stage biotechnology company has acquired the rights to human iPSC technology, from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)’s Accelerate Technologies Pte Ltd. The technology enables SCG to expand its cell therapy product portfolio and develop off-the-shelf cell-based cancer immunotherapy. Their iPSC technology is derived from skin or blood cells that are reprogrammed back into an embryonic-like pluripotent state that can produce any type of human cell. | Source: Global Data on 15th February 2022 

  • Arovella Therapeutics to Raise up to $1.1 Million in Share Purchase Plan 

Arovella Therapeutics Ltd, a biotechnology company focused on developing therapies to treat human disease, has entered into Share Purchase Plan (SPP), to issue 39,473,684 shares, at a price of AUD $0.038 per share, for gross proceeds up to AUD $1.5 million for eligible existing shareholders. The company intends to use the proceeds to progress development of its iNKT cell therapy platform and DKK1-peptide targeting monoclonal antibody recently licensed from the world-renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center. Concurrently, Arovella Therapeutics received firm commitments from institutional and sophisticated investors for a AUD $4.57 million placement of 120,230,220 new fully paid ordinary shares (New Shares) in the company at a price of AUD $0.038 per share (Placement). | Source: Global Data on 15th February 2022 

  • Arovella Therapeutics to Raise up to $3.3 Million in Private Placement Shares  

Arovella Therapeutics Ltd, a biotechnology company focused on developing therapies to treat human disease, has raised AUD $4.57 million in private placement of 120,230,220 new fully paid ordinary shares (New Shares) in the company at a price of AUD $0.038 per share (Placement). The company intends to use the proceeds to progress development of its iNKT cell therapy platform and DKK1-peptide targeting monoclonal antibody recently licensed from the world-renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center. | Source: Global Data on 15th February 2022 

Conclusion  

With the plethora of new competition across the life science industry being fuelled by new entrants, it’s pivotal for companies who are seeking funding to start thinking beyond the traditional tried-and-true considerations to glow amongst the crowd.  

As discussed in this article, having a more tactical approach and demonstrating traction within a more targeted customer segment coupled with leveraging your investor’s resources and network seems like a great place to start to raise your odds in acquiring funding.   

Is your company thinking beyond the “table stakes” items? 

About ATIN

Success is not just what you know, but who you know. The Advanced Therapies Investment Network (ATIN), helps advance the next pillar of medicine by connecting investors with the industry’s most valued business opportunities through facilitating curated one-to-one meetings, senior roundtable meetings, and high-quality content.

For more information about how to join this specialist group, please contact me directly via: wesley.johnson@phacilitate.com 

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