Peer Review, People

CEO Eliot Forster leaves Immunocore as the UK biotech unicorn hunts cash

Eliot Forster

High profile UK biotech exec Eliot Forster has stepped down as CEO from Immunocore, the T cell receptor biotech he’s led to star status in the three years he was at the helm.

Under Forster’s leadership, Immunocore raised a record-breaking $320 million Series A — stunning not just in Europe but even the US, where only Moderna has topped that — as well as sealing partnerships with AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and Roche. While the company is mainly known for its next-gen cancer therapies, the ongoing second funding round has attracted investment from the Gates Foundation, which committed $40 million to HIV and tuberculosis R&D.

“The business is now heading into the next promising phase of its evolution and in guiding Immunocore into this position, I feel I’ve completed the job I set out to do,” Forster said in a statement.

That might strike some as odd. Forster was putting together another monster round, according to a report in The Times last fall, which was intended to help seal a rep for biotech unicorn status — valued over $1 billion with no revenue.

Andrew Hotchkiss

Chief commercial officer Andrew Hotchkiss, an Eli Lilly vet who only joined the Oxford University spinout in October, will take the reins while the company searches for a new CEO.

Prior to leading Immunocore, Forster had been the CEO of several biotechs, inspiring questions as to where he might be going next.

“I would like to express my sincere appreciation for Eliot’s achievements as CEO,” board chairman Jonathan Knowles said. “He spearheaded Immunocore’s transformation into a world leading T cell receptor company and one of the UK’s biotechnology flag-carriers.With its lead candidate, IMCgp100, a first-in-class therapeutic for patients with metastatic uveal and cutaneous melanoma, […] Immunocore is advancing the preparation of its commercial strategy and developing its infrastructure more broadly.


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