Un­fazed by Brex­it blues, UK biotech trade group cel­e­brates bois­ter­ous year of ven­ture dol­lars with record £1.1B to­tal

A record year of ven­ture in­vest­ing has float­ed UK’s biotech boat, with the mon­ey flow in 2018 gush­ing over the £1 bil­lion mark for the first time.

A to­tal of £1.1 bil­lion was raised thanks to a boom in late-stage fi­nanc­ings, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est re­port from the UK BioIn­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion and Phar­ma In­tel­li­gence. While seed fund­ing stayed flat at £27 mil­lion and A rounds nabbed a col­lec­tive £213 mil­lion, it was Se­ries B and post-B fi­nanc­ings that de­liv­ered the most im­pres­sive num­bers at £393 mil­lion and £480 mil­lion, re­spec­tive­ly.

To put this in­to per­spec­tive, the BIA es­ti­mates that biotechs around the world raised a to­tal of £16.5 bil­lion from pri­vate and ven­ture sources. The US ab­sorbed the li­on’s share at £11.1 bil­lion, main­ly due to out­sized roles played by three biotech hubs, while Eu­rope pock­et­ed £2.6 bil­lion. The in­flux of cash in­to the UK means it’s now the fifth most at­trac­tive re­gion for biotech in­vest­ment, wrote Mike Ward of Phar­ma In­tel­li­gence, fol­low­ing San Fran­cis­co (£3.6 bil­lion), Mass­a­chu­setts (£3.4 bil­lion), Chi­na (£2.0 bil­lion) and San Diego (£1.6 bil­lion).

Julie Sim­monds

“The sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in mid and late-stage fi­nanc­ings shows a con­tin­ued ma­tur­ing of the sec­tor and strong in­ter­est from in­vestors in UK sci­ence,” Julie Sim­monds, an eq­ui­ty re­search an­a­lyst with Pan­mure Gor­don, wrote in the re­port. “It al­so re­flects the fact that UK com­pa­nies are choos­ing to re­main pri­vate for longer.”

What’s lur­ing in­vestors to a coun­try that, while es­tab­lished in sci­ence with pres­ti­gious in­sti­tu­tions and com­pa­nies in the Gold­en Tri­an­gle, is caught up in a chaot­ic (and ac­cord­ing to End­points News’ read­ers, harm­ful) de­par­ture from the Eu­ro­pean Union?

Steve Bates

It has to do with the UK’s “ex­per­tise in ge­nomics, cell and gene ther­a­pies, an­timi­cro­bial re­search and en­gi­neer­ing bi­ol­o­gy,” ac­cord­ing to BIA CEO Steve Bates. A pair of gene ther­a­py com­pa­nies — Or­chard Ther­a­peu­tics and Free­line Ther­a­peu­tics — claimed three of the top five ven­ture deals high­light­ed in the re­port, with the rest go­ing to Benev­o­len­tAI and genome se­quenc­ing com­pa­ny Ox­ford Nanopore.

Or­chard is al­so the poster child for pub­lic fi­nanc­ing here, hav­ing fol­lowed up its two pri­vate rounds with a quick £177.75 mil­lion IPO. Its suc­cess on the Nas­daq along­side Au­to­lus sug­gests “greater in­vestor ap­petite” in the US com­pared to Eu­rope, so­lid­i­fy­ing Nas­daq’s sta­tus as the ex­change of choice for UK biotechs to go pub­lic or raise fol­low-on fi­nanc­ing.

All told, £658 mil­lion was raised in fol­low-on fi­nanc­ing, with £381 mil­lion com­ing from the Nas­daq — more than AIM and LSE com­bined.

Mean­while M&A was rel­a­tive­ly mut­ed con­sid­er­ing that the cheap British pound low­ered the val­ue of UK as­sets. BIA count­ed 15 deals, in­clud­ing med­ical de­vice and vet­eri­nary med­i­cine com­pa­nies.

As the EMA moves out of its long­time Lon­don abode and the British drug reg­u­la­tor rush­es to put its own re­view sys­tem in place, the re­port spells an op­ti­mistic fu­ture for UK biotech.

“The cap­i­tal will be there,” com­ment­ed Tim Hames, di­rec­tor gen­er­al of the British Pri­vate Eq­ui­ty & Ven­ture Cap­i­tal As­so­ci­a­tion. “Do we have the pa­tience is the key ques­tion.”

Graph­ics: “Con­fi­dent cap­i­tal: back­ing UK biotech,” Jan­u­ary 2019 re­port. BIA, In­for­ma Phar­ma In­tel­li­gence

On a glob­al romp, Boehringer BD team picks up its third R&D al­liance for Ju­ly — this time fo­cused on IPF with $50M up­front

Boehringer Ingelheim’s BD team is on a global deal spree. The German pharma company just wrapped its third deal in 3 weeks, going back to Korea for its latest pipeline pact — this time focused on idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

They’re handing over $50 million to get their hands on BBT-877, an ATX inhibitor from Korea’s Bridge Biotherapeutics that was on display at a science conference in Dallas recently. There’s not a whole lot of data to evaluate the prospects here. Researchers noted a dose-dependent increase of plasma concentrations of the drug in an interim review of their Phase I, primarily spotlighting safety and tolerability. And Bridge has touted preclinical data they say makes this a best-in-class contender.

Servi­er scoots out of an­oth­er col­lab­o­ra­tion with Macro­Gen­ics, writ­ing off their $40M

Servier is walking out on a partnership with MacroGenics $MGNX — for the second time.

After the market closed on Wednesday MacroGenics put out word that Servier is severing a deal — inked close to 7 years ago — to collaborate on the development of flotetuzumab and other Dual-Affinity Re-Targeting (DART) drugs in its pipeline.

MacroGenics CEO Scott Koenig shrugged off the departure of Servier, which paid $20 million to kick off the alliance and $20 million to option flotetuzumab — putting a heavily back-ended $1 billion-plus in additional biobuck money on the table for the anti-CD123/CD3 bispecific and its companion therapies.

Den­mark's Gen­mab hits the jack­pot with $500M+ US IPO as small­er biotechs rake in a com­bined $147M

Danish drugmaker Genmab A/S is off to the races with perhaps one of the biggest biotech public listings in decades, having reaped over $500 million on the Nasdaq, as it positions itself as a bonafide player in antibody-based cancer therapies.

The company, which has long served as J&J’s $JNJ key partner on the blockbuster multiple myeloma therapy Darzalex, has asserted it has been looking to launch its own proprietary product — one it owns at least half of — by 2025.

FDA over­rides ad­comm opin­ions a fifth of the time, study finds — but why?

For drugmakers, FDA advisory panels are often an apprehended barometer of regulators’ final decisions. While the experts’ endorsement or criticism often translate directly to final outcomes, the FDA sometimes stun observers by diverging from recommendations.

A new paper out of Milbank Quarterly put a number on that trend by analyzing 376 voting meetings and subsequent actions from 2008 through 2015, confirming the general impression that regulators tend to agree with the adcomms most of the time — with discordances in only 22% of the cases.

Part club, part guide, part land­lord: Arie Bellde­grun is blue­print­ing a string of be­spoke biotech com­plex­es in glob­al boom­towns — start­ing with Boston

The biotech industry is getting a landlord, unlike anything it’s ever known before.

Inspired by his recent experiences scrounging for space in Boston and the Bay Area, master biotech builder, investor, and global dealmaker Arie Belldegrun has organized a new venture to build a new, 250,000 square foot biopharma building in Boston’s Seaport district — home to Vertex and a number of up-and-coming biotech players.

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Norbert Bischofberger. Kronos

Backed by some of the biggest names in biotech, Nor­bert Bischof­berg­er gets his megaround for plat­form tech out of MIT

A little over a year ago when I reported on Norbert Bischofberger’s jump from the CSO job at giant Gilead to a tiny upstart called Kronos, I noted that with his connections in biotech finance, that $18 million launch round he was starting off with could just as easily have been $100 million or more.

With his first anniversary now behind him, Bischofberger has that mega-round in the bank.

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H1 analy­sis: The high-stakes ta­ble in the biotech deals casi­no is pay­ing out some record-set­ting win­nings

For years the big trend among dealmakers at the major players has been centered on ratcheting down upfront payments in favor of bigger milestones. Better known as biobucks for some. But with the top 15 companies competing for the kind of “transformative” pacts that can whip up some excitement on Wall Street, with some big biotechs like Regeneron now weighing in as well, cash is king at the high stakes table.

We asked Chris Dokomajilar, the head of DealForma, to crunch the numbers for us, looking over the top 20 deals for the past decade and breaking it all down into the top alliances already created in 2019. Gilead has clearly tipped the scales in terms of the coin of the bio-realm, with its record-setting $5 billion upfront to tie up to Galapagos’ entire pipeline.

Dokomajilar notes:

We’re going to need a ‘three comma club’ for the deals with over $1 billion in total upfront cash and equity. The $100 million-plus club is getting crowded at 164 deals in the last decade with new deals being added towards the top of the chart. 2019 already has 14 deals with at least $100 million in upfront cash and equity for a total year-to-date of over $9 billion. That beats last year’s $8 billion and sets a record.

Add upfronts and equity payments and you get $11.5 billion for the year, just shy of last year’s record-setting $11.8 billion.

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Novotech CRO Ex­pands Chi­na Team as Biotech De­mand for Clin­i­cal Tri­als In­creas­es up to 79%

An increase in demand of up to 79% for clinical trials in China has prompted Novotech the Asia-Pacific CRO to rapidly expand the China team, appointing expert local clinical executives to their Shanghai and Hong Kong offices. The company is planning to expand their team by 30% over the next quarter.

Novotech China has seen considerable demand recently which is borne out by research from GlobalData:
A global migration of clinical research is occurring from high-income countries to low and middle-income countries with emerging economies. Over the period 2017 to 2018, for example, the number of clinical trial sites opened by biotech companies in Asia-Pacific increased by 35% compared to 8% in the rest of the world, with growth as high as 79% in China.
Novotech CEO Dr John Moller said China offers the largest population in the world, rapid economic growth, and an increasing willingness by government to invest in research and development.
Novotech’s 23 years of experience working in the region means we are the ideal CRO partner for USA biotechs wanting to tap the research expertise and opportunities that China offers.
There are over 22,000 active investigators in Greater China, with about 5,000 investigators with experience on at least 3 studies (source GlobalData).

UP­DAT­ED: With loom­ing ‘apoc­a­lypse of drug re­sis­tance,’ Mer­ck’s com­bi­na­tion an­tibi­ot­ic scores FDA ap­proval on two fronts

Merck — one of the last large biopharmaceuticals companies in the beleaguered field of antibiotic drug development — on Wednesday said the FDA had sanctioned the approval of its combination antibacterial for the treatment of complicated urinary tract and intra-abdominal infections.

To curb the rise of drug-resistant bacteria and maintain the efficacy of the therapy, Recarbrio (and other antibacterials) — the drug must be used to treat or prevent infections that are proven or strongly suspected to be caused by susceptible gram-negative bacteria, Merck $MRK said.

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