Stephan Christgau, Amanda Hayward, Andreas Segerros and Magnus Persson (Eir Ventures)

A new ven­ture fund amid a pan­dem­ic? In the Nordics? Eir Ven­tures brings it on with €76M first close

From Phar­ma­cia and Lund­beck to No­vo Nordisk and As­traZeneca, the Nordic coun­tries have been the birth­place for some lega­cy phar­ma com­pa­nies. But for all that his­to­ry and rep­u­ta­tion, Stephan Christ­gau counts on­ly five spe­cial­ized life sci­ence in­vestors back­ing biotechs to­day.

That leaves plen­ty of room for Eir Ven­tures, a brand new ven­ture fund Christ­gau — one of the founders of No­vo Seeds — is launch­ing with three oth­er vet­er­an VCs.

Speak­ing to End­points News from Copen­hagen with fel­low man­ag­ing part­ner An­dreas Segerros, he spoke

“You have a num­ber of good clus­ters in the Nordic,” he said, point­ing to the south­ern Swe­den / east­ern Den­mark area known as the Medicon Val­ley, places like Gothen­burg, Stock­holm and even Oslo, Nor­way. “I would say the Nordic re­gion and the hotspots here are top three in Eu­rope. That may be a big word. But yes we have Ox­ford/Cam­bridge, and we maybe have the Paris area, but what we see here are some emerg­ing big list­ed com­pa­nies like Gen­mab and So­bi and so on.”

The in­creas­ing costs of do­ing busi­ness in the US hubs, Segerros added, are start­ing to get pro­hib­i­tive. Be it re­al es­tate, salary or drug de­vel­op­ment, you can do more with your dime in the ar­eas Eir Ven­tures will be op­er­at­ing.

As a re­sult, the firm ex­pects to take a “very mean­ing­ful role and an ac­tive own­er­ship po­si­tion” by putting in be­tween €5 mil­lion and €7 mil­lion, giv­ing them a range of 12 to 16 port­fo­lio com­pa­nies. The ide­al can­di­date will be a lit­tle be­yond dis­cov­ery stage, though Eir Ven­tures does want to in­clude a few lat­er-stage projects in the mix.

Around 5% of the fund — which might bal­loon in­to €100 mil­lion lat­er — will go to around 15 ul­tra ear­ly-stage op­por­tu­ni­ties they call “seedlings.”

“So it will be a con­vert­ible loan, a few hun­dred thou­sand dol­lars, but will be cre­at­ed to fund sort of crit­i­cal killer ex­per­i­ments or oth­er crit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties that will make the com­pa­ny fund­able,” Christ­gau said.

Mag­nus Pers­son, who built up Swe­den’s Health­Cap to be one of the rare spe­cial­ist life sci­ence VC play­ers in the Nordics be­fore get­ting re­cruit­ed to The Col­umn Group’s San Fran­cis­co of­fice, is join­ing Christ­gau and Segerros as man­ag­ing part­ner. The trio has al­so wooed Aman­da Hay­ward to be a spe­cial part­ner out of Con­necti­cut while con­tin­u­ing her day job scout­ing new rare dis­ease drugs for Rally­bio.

Al­though Covid-19 has com­pli­cat­ed and de­layed things, caus­ing some be­liev­ers to with­draw, the four an­chor in­vestors are weath­er­ing the storm, the team said. They are Sam­in­vest, a ven­ture cap­i­tal com­pa­ny found­ed by the Swedish Gov­ern­ment, Væk­st­fonden, the Dan­ish state’s in­vest­ment fund, No­vo Hold­ings, as well as the Eu­ro­pean In­vest­ment Fund.

“Copen­hagen or Stock­holm is not Boston, and may nev­er be that,” Christ­gau al­lowed. “But if you go back 20 years, I was — maybe 30 years back. I was at Kendall Square and at that point in time, there was re­al­ly not [much] to write home about with re­gard to life sci­ence. So re­gions can de­vel­op. I’m not sit­ting here say­ing that we be­lieve that we’ll re­pro­duce Kendall Square, but we see a good tra­jec­to­ry of the life sci­ence in­dus­try here and we be­lieve this is the right place to be for a new ven­ture fund.”

Vas Narasimhan (Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis de­tails plans to axe 8,000 staffers as Narasimhan be­gins sec­ond phase of a glob­al re­org

We now know the number of jobs coming under the axe at Novartis, and it isn’t small.

The pharma giant is confirming a report from Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger that it is chopping 8,000 jobs out of its 108,000 global staffers. A large segment will hit right at company headquarters in Basel, as CEO Vas Narasimhan axes some 1,400 of a little more than 11,000  jobs in Switzerland.

The first phase of the work is almost done, the company says in a statement to Endpoints News. Now it’s on to phase two. In the statement, Novartis says:

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Bob Nelsen (Lyell)

As bear mar­ket con­tin­ues to beat down biotech, ARCH clos­es a $3B ear­ly-stage fund

One of the biggest names in biotech investing has a whole lot of new money to spend.

ARCH Venture Partners closed its 12th venture fund early Wednesday morning, the firm said, bringing in almost $3 billion to invest in early-stage biotechs. The move comes about a year and a half after ARCH announced its previous fund, for almost $2 billion back in January 2021.

In a statement, ARCH managing director and co-founder Bob Nelsen appeared to brush off concerns about the broader market troubles, alluding to the downturn that’s seen several biotechs downsize and the XBI fall back to almost pre-pandemic levels.

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Sanofi to cut in­sulin prices for unin­sured from $99 to $35, match­ing the in­sulin cap com­ing through Con­gress

As the House-passed bill to cap the monthly price of insulin at $35 nationwide makes its way for a Senate vote soon, Sanofi announced Wednesday morning that beginning next month it will cut the monthly price of its insulins for uninsured Americans to $35, down from $99 previously.

The announcement from Sanofi, which allows the uninsured to buy one or multiple Sanofi insulins (Lantus, Insulin Glargine U-100, Toujeo, Admelog, and Apidra) at $35 for a 30-day supply effective July 1, follows House passage (232-193) of the monthly cap in March, with just 12 Republicans voting in favor of the measure.

Shehnaaz Suliman, ReCode Therapeutics CEO (Photo by Jennifer Leahy)

Pfiz­er, Sanofi-backed LNP out­fit goes back to the well and draws $120M for its trek to the clin­ic

A preclinical biotech touting a five-lipid drug delivery platform is looking to break out of its preclinical mold, and it just secured a sizable raise to do just that.

ReCode Therapeutics reported Wednesday morning that Leaps by Bayer and Matrix Capital Management affiliate AyurMaya co-led a Series B extension round, adding $120 million to the biotech’s previous Series B haul of $80 million. The biotech has been backed by several players in Big Pharma, notably Pfizer and Sanofi from its original Series B close last fall. And in this extension — featuring all new investors, CEO Shehnaaz Suliman tells Endpoints News — Amgen’s VC arm jumped on board.

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Lina Gugucheva, NewAmsterdam Pharma CBO

Phar­ma group bets up to $1B-plus on the PhI­II res­ur­rec­tion of a once dead-and-buried LDL drug

Close to 5 years after then-Amgen R&D chief Sean Harper tamped the last spade of dirt on the last broadly focused CETP cholesterol drug — burying their $300 million upfront and the few remaining hopes for the class with it — the therapy has been fully resurrected. And today, the NewAmsterdam Pharma crew that did the Lazarus treatment on obicetrapib is taking another big step on the comeback trail with a €1 billion-plus regional licensing deal, complete with close to $150 million in upfront cash.

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How pre­pared is bio­phar­ma for the cy­ber dooms­day?

One of the largest cyberattacks in history happened on a Friday, Eric Perakslis distinctly remembers.

Perakslis, who was head of Takeda’s R&D Data Sciences Institute and visiting faculty at Harvard Medical School at the time, had spent that morning completing a review on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal. Moments after he turned it in, he heard back from the editor: “Have you heard what’s going on right now?”

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Hank Safferstein, Generian CEO

Astel­las sub­sidiary to part­ner with Pitts­burgh up­start in search for 'un­drug­gable' pro­teins

As Astellas continues its drive to build out its gene therapy portfolio and capabilities, a subsidiary of the Japanese pharma company has entered into a collaboration with a little-known Pittsburgh biotech.

Astellas-owned Mitobridge and Generian Pharmaceuticals announced on Wednesday that they will work together in a new deal for “undruggable” protein targets. Generian will net an undisclosed upfront payment and could get up to $180 million in milestones, should anything from its platform prove successful, as well as single-digit royalties on global net sales.

Adam Simpson, Icosavax CEO

Reel­ing from Covid flop, Icosavax says its RSV can­di­date passed ear­ly test. But in­vestors need some more con­vinc­ing

Three months separated from a disappointing readout of its Covid-19 vaccine, Icosavax is back with what it calls positive topline data for a different VLP vaccine candidate — although investors aren’t impressed.

IVX-121, a vaccine candidate for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), appeared to generate “robust” immune responses among both young and older adults, as measured by neutralizing antibodies, and appeared generally well-tolerated, Icosavax reported.

Eliot Charles, MiroBio executive chairman

Ox­ford spin­out nabs al­most $100M in new cash to test PD-1 in au­toim­mune dis­eases and hunt for a CEO

After about 15 years in an Oxford lab and three more years in the upstart world following a 2019 spinout, MiroBio is ready to enter UK clinical trials and, en route to the clinic, the biotech has picked up $97 million in Series B funds.

The £80 million financing round kicked off in earnest last September and includes a transatlantic consortium — led by Medicxi — ready to bankroll that first clinical trial, beginning “imminently,” as well as the debut study of a second program thereafter, executive chair Eliot Charles, an SR One venture partner, told Endpoints News.