Startups

Shanghai biotech upstart raises $50M, bags antibody discovery group and ramps up Boston unit

Jingsong Wang

Jingsong Wang

A new Shanghai-based biotech upstart is taking part of its $50 million A round to acquire an antibody discovery outfit in Rotterdam while blueprinting plans to jumpstart a research site in the Boston area.

The Chinese company is Harbour BioMed, run by Sanofi R&D vet Jingsong Wang and Liang Schweizer. They are buying Harbour Antibodies, a spinout of Erasmus University which has been doing a series of deals using its transgenic mouse models to discover new antibodies. And they are being financed by Advantech Capital and Legend Capital, two increasingly prominent China-based life sciences investors.

Wang, the former head of China R&D for Sanofi, tells me that the plan at the new global upstart is to become “a major player in the biotech industry,” building its portfolio of drugs through networks in Europe, the US and China. And he plans for the Rotterdam subsidiary to continue to strike antibody deals.

Harbour Antibodies already has a business team operating in Boston, and one of its top investors, Atlas Venture, will keep an interest in the expanded Shanghai-based biotech as it looks to get established. Harbour is keeping the terms of the deal quiet for now, but Erasmus MC is getting $10 million in cash and shares in exchange for the stake it held in the antibody discovery group in Rotterdam.

Wang says the new discovery unit in Boston will start with about 10 scientists and grow from there. Harbour is zeroing in on immuno-oncology, one of the hottest fields in biotech.


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