Managing partner Stefan Fischer (TVM)

Eli Lil­ly part­ner TVM Cap­i­tal rais­es $478M for their new life sci­ences fund, a 'sub­stan­tial' over­sub­scrip­tion

A Ger­man-Cana­di­an VC fund and high-pro­file Eli Lil­ly part­ner has near­ly half a bil­lion dol­lars in new cash to play with.

TVM Cap­i­tal Life Sci­ence, based out of Mu­nich and Mon­tre­al, an­nounced the clos­ing of its sec­ond and lat­est fund Tues­day with $478 mil­lion in hand. That to­tal rep­re­sents a “sub­stan­tial” over­sub­scrip­tion, man­ag­ing part­ner Ste­fan Fis­ch­er said, and a good 36.5% more than the $350 mil­lion ini­tial­ly ex­pect­ed.

“We had agreed up­front that we feel com­fort­able rais­ing $350 [mil­lion], and we set a hard cap at $450 [mil­lion],” Fis­ch­er told End­points News. “Now that we’re end­ing up at $478 [mil­lion], I think that speaks a clear lan­guage. We were shoot­ing a lit­tle bit low­er but there was strong de­mand and strong in­ter­est, so what can I say? $478 [mil­lion] is a fan­tas­tic out­come.”

Luc Marengère

Fis­ch­er al­so serves as CFO of the firm and runs it with two col­leagues, Luc Marengère and Hu­bert Birn­er. For the past decade, Fis­ch­er said, the trio has steered the com­pa­ny away from the tra­di­tion­al VC mod­el of build­ing up big syn­di­cates and main­ly to­ward sin­gle-as­set biotechs who are at or near­ing the IND-en­abling phase, but they still in­vest in pro­grams in lat­er stages.

The new fund will in­vest in about 16 to 18 such com­pa­nies that are at or be­fore Phase I and TVM will end up as the ma­jor­i­ty share­hold­er. On top of that, TVM will like­ly in­vest in 10 to 12 late-stage com­pa­nies, and the fund is ex­pect­ed to run for about 10 years.

It’s all part of the TVM mod­el that fo­cus­es on “PFCs,” or project fund­ed com­pa­nies. Two of the com­pa­ny’s most promi­nent ex­its, CoLu­cid and Au­r­Ka, are proof the mod­el works, Fis­ch­er said.

Hu­bert Birn­er

CoLu­cid was swal­lowed by Lil­ly in 2017 for $960 mil­lion at a 33% pre­mi­um, and the big prize from the deal was las­mid­i­tan — an oral 5-HT ag­o­nist orig­i­nal­ly de­vel­oped by Lil­ly and then out-li­censed to CoLu­cid in 2005. Au­r­Ka, mean­while, was ac­quired by Lil­ly in 2018, net­ting the phar­ma an Au­ro­ra ki­nase A in­hibitor for $576 mil­lion.

Lil­ly and TVM have been a team for many years, and the firm boasts ex­clu­sive ac­cess to the drug­mak­er’s Lil­ly Cho­rus R&D group, Fis­ch­er said. The re­la­tion­ship al­lows TVM and Lil­ly to col­lab­o­rate on de­vel­op­ment plans for po­ten­tial in­vest­ments, and then the work it­self is out­sourced to third par­ty ser­vice providers.

“There’s no oth­er group at any oth­er phar­ma part­ner like Cho­rus, so it’s kind of a unique propo­si­tion, I would say. Hav­ing ac­cess to such a group for us is a very im­por­tant part of our in­vest­ment strat­e­gy,” Fis­ch­er said. “They have done their due dili­gence on the ven­ture world in the US and Eu­rope, and I’m proud to say that we are one of the cho­sen ones.”

Now comes the in­vest­ments them­selves, and TVM is off to a fast start. The fund sold its first in­vest­ment in Feb­ru­ary of this year, and Fis­ch­er is ready for more.

“We are in in­vest­ing mode,” he said.

Im­ple­ment­ing re­silience in the clin­i­cal tri­al sup­ply chain

Since January 2020, the clinical trials ecosystem has quickly evolved to manage roadblocks impeding clinical trial integrity, and patient care and safety amid a global pandemic. Closed borders, reduced air traffic and delayed or canceled flights disrupted global distribution, revealing how flexible logistics and supply chains can secure the timely delivery of clinical drug products and therapies to sites and patients.

In fi­nal days at Mer­ck, Roger Perl­mut­ter bets big on a lit­tle-known Covid-19 treat­ment

Roger Perlmutter is spending his last days at Merck, well, spending.

Two weeks after snapping up the antibody-drug conjugate biotech VelosBio for $2.75 billion, Merck announced today that it had purchased OncoImmune and its experimental Covid-19 drug for $425 million. The drug, known as CD24Fc, appeared to reduce the risk of respiratory failure or death in severe Covid-19 patients by 50% in a 203-person Phase III trial, OncoImmune said in September.

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Pascal Soriot (AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: As­traZeneca, Ox­ford on the de­fen­sive as skep­tics dis­miss 70% av­er­age ef­fi­ca­cy for Covid-19 vac­cine

On the third straight Monday that the world wakes up to positive vaccine news, AstraZeneca and Oxford are declaring a new Phase III milestone in the fight against the pandemic. Not everyone is convinced they will play a big part, though.

With an average efficacy of 70%, the headline number struck analysts as less impressive than the 95% and 94.5% protection that Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have boasted in the past two weeks, respectively. But the British partners say they have several other bright spots going for their candidate. One of the two dosing regimens tested in Phase III showed a better profile, bringing efficacy up to 90%; the adenovirus vector-based vaccine requires minimal refrigeration, which may mean easier distribution; and AstraZeneca has pledged to sell it at a fraction of the price that the other two vaccine developers are charging.

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Bob Nelsen (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

Bob Nelsen rais­es $800M and re­cruits a star-stud­ded board to build the 'Fox­con­n' of biotech

Bob Nelsen spent his pandemic spring in his Seattle home, talking on the phone with Luciana Borio, the scientist who used to run pandemic preparedness on the National Security Council, and fuming with her about the dire state of American manufacturing.

Companies were rushing to develop vaccines and antibodies for the new virus, but even if they succeeded, there was no immediate supply chain or infrastructure to mass-produce them in a way that could make a dent in the outbreak.

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Peter Thiel (Riccardo Savi/Sipa via AP Images)

Tech bil­lion­aire Pe­ter Thiel backs a lead­ing psy­che­del­ic drug de­vel­op­er

Right on the heels of investing in antibody drug developer AbCellera, Facebook billionaire Peter Thiel has jumped into a syndicate putting up $125 million for a company with a portfolio of psychedelic drugs in the clinic for mental health.

The C round — which includes a $32 million conversion of notes to equity — will fuel the development programs at ATAI Life Sciences, a Berlin-based biotech that has assembled a portfolio of companies with psychedelic and non-psychedilc approaches to depression, anxiety and addiction.

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Carl Hansen, AbCellera CEO (University of British Columbia)

From a pair of Air Jor­dans to a $200M-plus IPO, Carl Hansen is craft­ing an overnight R&D for­tune fu­eled by Covid-19

Back in the summer of 2019, Carl Hansen left his post as a professor at the University of British Columbia to go full time as the CEO at a low-profile antibody shop he had founded called AbCellera.

As biotech CEOs go, even after a fundraise Hansen wasn’t paid a whole heck of a lot. He ended up earning right at $250,000 for the year. His compensation package included a loan — which he later paid back — and a pair of Air Jordan tennis shoes. His newly-hired CFO, Andrew Booth, got a sweeter pay packet than that — which included his own pair of Air Jordans.

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Simeon George, SR One CEO (SR One)

Scoop: SR One crew com­pletes a com­pli­cat­ed spin­out from Glax­o­SmithK­line. And now they have a $500M fund to in­vest on their own

It’s taken close to 2 years, but Simeon George and his team at SR One have completed their spinout from GlaxoSmithKline, ending a saga as one of the longest running venture arms of Big Pharma as they go out on their own to forge the next chapter with a new and independent $500 million fund.

GSK is sticking with the spinout, this time as a minority investor — though a big one. And I’m told that the R&D group at GSK will remain involved in evaluating their new plays, helping with the scientific due diligence involved in scouting the world for new opportunities during a period of explosive growth in biotech investing.

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Vipin Suri, Catamaran Bio CSO

Cata­ma­ran Bio sails in­to the CAR-NK wa­ters with a $42M launch round

Catamaran Bio’s founding members decided to jump into the CAR-NK game last December over drinks at a trendy bar in Boston.

They were sitting around a table, discussing an MD Anderson study which provided some of the first clinical proof that natural killer (NK) cells can be reengineered to attack tumors, much like CAR-T therapies. It was a “long and lively” discussion, COO Mark Boshar recalls. And by the time it was over, they had a starting point to launch a company.

Leonard Schleifer, Regeneron CEO (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Trail­ing Eli Lil­ly by 12 days, Re­gen­eron gets the FDA OK for their Covid-19 an­ti­body cock­tail

A month and a half after becoming the experimental treatment of choice for a newly diagnosed president, Regeneron’s antibody cocktail has received emergency use authorization from the FDA. It will be used to treat non-hospitalized Covid-19 patients who are at high-risk of progressing.

Although the Rgeneron drug is not the first antibody treatment authorized by the FDA, the news comes as a significant milestone for a company and a treatment scientists have watched closely since the outbreak began.