Dirk Kersten, Forbion partner

Amidst a strug­gling IPO mar­ket, For­bion drums up half a bil­lion in pri­vate cash for sec­ond late-stage fund

Eu­ro­pean ven­ture cap­i­tal firm For­bion an­nounced Thurs­day morn­ing an ini­tial close of €470 mil­lion ($504 mil­lion) for its sec­ond growth fund meant to boost late clin­i­cal-stage biotechs.

For­bion’s Growth Op­por­tu­ni­ties Fund II comes two years af­ter its first late-stage-spe­cif­ic growth fund, which saw its first close at €250 mil­lion and fi­nal close at €360 mil­lion. The high­light from that fund? Gy­ro­scope Ther­a­peu­tics, which sold to No­var­tis in De­cem­ber for $1.5 bil­lion in a deal that cen­tered around a gene ther­a­py for ad­vanced AMD, a vi­sion loss dis­ease.

“When we start­ed think­ing about the Growth Op­por­tu­ni­ties Fund in 2019, we felt it was clear that there was a re­al need for late-stage cap­i­tal in Eu­rope, and there was an emerg­ing num­ber of Eu­ro­pean late stage com­pa­nies in dire need for pri­vate growth cap­i­tal in par­tic­u­lar,” For­bion part­ner Dirk Ker­sten told End­points News.

With the first fund, For­bion made nine in­vest­ments in­to Eu­ro­pean biotechs in clin­i­cal stud­ies. How­ev­er, Ker­sten not­ed that the VC firm is tak­ing a bit of a dif­fer­ent ap­proach with its in­vest­ments for this sec­ond fund.

“What has changed over the last 18 months, of course, is the pub­lic mar­ket sen­ti­ment,” Ker­sten said. “When the pub­lic mar­kets were bull­ish two years ago, we kind of steered away a lit­tle bit from pre-IPO val­u­a­tions that were creep­ing up and get­ting pret­ty high, and we re­al­ly fo­cused on phar­ma spin­outs and pri­vate rounds.

“And now that the pub­lic mar­kets have cooled off, we are ac­tu­al­ly redi­rect­ing our ac­tiv­i­ties to­wards pub­lic op­por­tu­ni­ties and un­der­val­ued as­sets,” he con­tin­ued.

For­bion’s first growth fund al­so spun out Syn­Ox, an Ire­land-based biotech sport­ing an an­ti­body treat­ment li­censed from Roche for treat­ing the rare dis­ease of tenosyn­ovial gi­ant cell tu­mors. In ad­di­tion, the fund in­vest­ed in NewAms­ter­dam Phar­ma, which cur­rent­ly has a treat­ment for low­er­ing cho­les­terol from heart dis­ease in Phase III stud­ies.

Pan­theon, Eli Lil­ly and Wealth Man­age­ment Part­ners, all re­turn­ing in­vestors, con­tributed to the fund, though a num­ber of new in­vestors al­so joined the fray, in­clud­ing the Ew­ing Mar­i­on Kauff­man Foun­da­tion and Regge­borgh.

With new mon­ey in hand, For­bion will be look­ing at Eu­ro­pean biotechs head­ing in­to Phase II and III clin­i­cal tri­als, though Ker­sten said that an ex­cep­tion could be made for some on­col­o­gy prod­ucts in Phase I stud­ies. He al­so not­ed that For­bion will be branch­ing in­to some US com­pa­nies with its in­vest­ments, call­ing an “80:20” split be­tween in­vest­ments made in Eu­rope and the US.

The VC said it ex­pects to reach its €600 mil­lion ($643 mil­lion) hard cap for its sec­ond growth fund over the sum­mer.

This ar­ti­cle has been up­dat­ed to clar­i­fy that NewAms­ter­dam Phar­ma is in Phase III stud­ies, not Phase IIb.

Biotech in­vestors and CEOs see two paths to growth, but are they equal­ly vi­able?

The dynamic in the biotech market has been highly volatile in the last few years, from the high peaks immediately after the COVID vaccine in 2021, to the lowest downturns of the last 20 years in 2022. This uncertainty makes calling the exact timing of the market’s turn something of a fool’s errand, according to Dr. Chen Yu, Founder and Managing Partner of TCG Crossover (TCG X). He speaks with RBC’s Noël Brown, Head of US Biotechnology Investment Banking, about the market’s road ahead and two possible paths for growth.

Mar­ket­ingRx roundup: No­var­tis re­cruits NFL coach for Leqvio cam­paign; Pfiz­er pro­motes ‘Sci­ence’ merch on so­cial me­dia

Novartis is turning to a winning coach to talk about Leqvio and the struggles of high cholesterol — including his own. Bruce Arians, the retired NFL head coach of the Arizona Cardinals and Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is partnering with the pharma for its “Coaching Cholesterol” digital, social and public relations effort.

In the campaign, Arians talks about the potential for “great comebacks” in football and heart health. Once nicknamed a “quarterback whisperer,” he is now retired from fulltime coaching (although still a front-office consultant for Tampa Bay), and did a round of media interviews for Novartis, including one with People and Forbes.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 150,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Amy West, Novo Nordisk head of US digital innovation and transformation (Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News)

Q&A: No­vo Nordisk dig­i­tal in­no­va­tion chief Amy West dis­cuss­es phar­ma pain points and a health­care 'easy but­ton’

Amy West joined Novo Nordisk more than a decade ago to oversee marketing strategies and campaigns for its US diabetes portfolio. However, her career path shifted into digital, and she hasn’t looked back. West went from leading Novo’s first digital health strategy in the US to now heading up digital innovation and transformation.

She’s currently leading the charge at Novo Nordisk to not only go beyond the pill with digital marketing and health tech, but also test, pilot and develop groundbreaking new strategies needed in today’s consumerized healthcare world.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

Casey McPherson shows his daughters Rose (left) and Weston around Everlum Bio, a lab that he co-founded to spark a treatment for Rose and others with ultra-rare conditions. (Ilana Panich-Linsman)

Fa­ther starts lab af­ter in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty is­sues stymie rare dis­ease drug de­vel­op­ment

Under bright lab lights, Casey McPherson holds his 6-year-old daughter, Rose. His free hand directs Rose’s gaze toward a computer screen with potential clues in treating her one-of-a kind genetic condition.

Gray specks on the screen show her cells that scientists reprogrammed with the goal of zeroing in on a custom medicine. McPherson co-founded the lab, Everlum Bio, to spark a treatment for Rose — and others like her. A regarded singer-songwriter, McPherson never imagined going into drug development.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 150,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Bob Duggan (Duggan Investments)

Biotech bil­lion­aire Bob Dug­gan flies the white flag as Sum­mit hunts a new own­er, or part­ner, for sole clin­i­cal-stage ef­fort

Bob Duggan’s Summit Therapeutics $SMMT is running out of moves for its sole clinical-stage candidate.

The biotech issued a terse statement in an SEC filing that it’s pulling the plug on the only active clinical trial for ridinilazole, which has been through a failed late-stage trial for C. difficile. A pediatric study is being curtailed as Summit says it decided a few days ago to either partner out the therapy or get a buyer — if they can find one.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 150,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

User fees in ac­tion: FDA un­veils new short­ened sup­ple­ment re­view, rare dis­ease pi­lots

Thanks to PDUFA VII, signed into law last Friday by President Joe Biden, the FDA this week unveiled two new industry-friendly pilot programs to advance new rare disease endpoints via additional meetings, and to shorten FDA review times for supplemental apps aimed at unmet medical needs.

The agency this week released eagerly-awaited details behind the shortened pilot, known as the Split Real Time Application Review or STAR pilot program, which will speed up certain FDA reviews of efficacy supplements across all therapeutic areas (thanks to earlier submissions of data), but only for those that propose addressing an unmet medical need.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 150,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Benjamine Liu, TrialSpark CEO

Paul Hud­son and Tri­alSpark's mu­tu­al de­sire to speed up de­vel­op­ment con­verges in three-year, six-drug goal

A unicorn startup that originally set out to hasten clinical studies for biopharma partners dug further into its revised path of internal drug development by linking arms with Sanofi in a pact that the biotech’s CEO said originated from the top.

TrialSpark and the Big Pharma on Tuesday committed to in-licensing and/or acquiring six Phase II/Phase III drugs within the next three years.

“I’ve known Paul Hudson for a while and we were discussing the opportunity to really re-imagine a lot of different parts of pharma,” TrialSpark CEO Benjamine Liu told Endpoints News, “and one of the things that we discussed was this opportunity to accelerate the development of new medicines in mutual areas of interest.”

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 150,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Marc Dunoyer, Alexion CEO (AstraZeneca via YouTube)

Up­dat­ed: As­traZeneca nabs a small rare dis­ease gene ther­a­py play­er for 667% pre­mi­um

AstraZeneca is kicking off the fourth quarter with a little M&A Monday for a gene editing player recently overcoming a second clinical hold to its only program in human studies.

The Big Pharma and its subsidiary Alexion are buying out little LogicBio for $2.07 per share. That’s good for a massive 667% premium over its Friday closing price, when it headed into the weekend at 27 cents and just weeks after Nasdaq said LogicBio would have to delist, which has been put on hold as the biotech requests a hearing. It’s one of two biotech deals to commence October, alongside the news of Incyte buying a vitiligo-focused biotech.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 150,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Dave Marek, Myovant CEO

My­ovant board balks as ma­jor­i­ty own­er Sum­it­o­mo swoops in with a $2.5B deal to buy them out

Three years after Sumitomo scooped up Roivant’s 46% stake in the publicly traded Myovant $MYOV as part of a 5-company, $3 billion deal, they’re coming back for the whole thing.

But these other investors at Myovant want more than what the Japanese pharma company is currently offering to pay at this stage.

Sumitomo is bidding $22.75 a share for the outstanding stock, which now represents 48% of the company after Sumitomo bumped its ownership since the original deal with Roivant. Myovant, however, created a special committee on the board, and they’re shaking their heads over the offer.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 150,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.