Alex Philippidis Senior News Editor Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

They Made the Most of the Market before Its Turn South

More than a month after biopharma stocks began to tank, investors and market-watchers remain divided on whether the Wall Street swoon is just the proverbial bump in the road, or a pothole that will stymie startups for months, if not years, to come.

An answer is unlikely to emerge from this year’s GEN tally of early-stage drug and diagnostic developers that closed on millions of dollars in private funding during 2015 (as of deadline on November 2).  For what it’s worth, more than half (15) of the 26 funding events by the listed companies took place since July,

As was the case with GEN Lists published last year and in 2013, this year’s tally does not include companies that secured private funding and later went public, or filed registration statements to do so. We counted at least 12 companies fitting that description this year—Aimmune Therapeutics, aTyr, BeiGene, Chiasma, CytomX Therapeutics, Dimension Therapeutics, Edge Therapeutics, Merus, Nabriva, REGENX BIO, Voyager Therapeutics, and WAVE Life Sciences.

Also not included are public companies that raised large sums of private funding. Five such companies would otherwise have been included among the top 21—Keryx Biopharmaceuticals, Agenus, Ardelyx, ImmunoGen, and ReNeuron.

Below is a list of 21 privately held biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, ranked by the amount of nonpublic financing they raised through November 2. Each company is listed by total raised (with a breakdown of the amount for companies reporting two events this year), the type of financing, the date announced, the purpose of the financing as stated by companies, the financing leader, other firms involved in the financing with their status as new or existing investors noted where available, and footnotes offering details of the events.

#21. ADC Therapeutics

Amount: $80 million

Type: Private placement of equity

Date announced: September 2

Purpose: Advance company’s product portfolio, including ADCT-301 for lymphoma and leukemia now in Phase I and a collaboration to develop up to two antibody-drug conjugates for commercialization with MedImmune.

Financing leader: None denoted

Additional financial partners: New investors including undisclosed “leading” European and US-based investors; founding investor Auven Therapeutics, with participation from AstraZeneca.

#20. Ovid Therapeutics

Amount: $80.1 million1

Type: Series B financing and equity financing

Date announced: August 11 ($75 million Series B financing); March 18 (Form D filed for $5.1 million equity offering)

Purpose: Advance product candidates, including OV101 for Angelman Syndrome and Fragile X Syndrome. Phase II testing is expected to commence in both patient groups in 2016. Also, advance several other internal compounds into clinical testing, and further expand pipeline.

Financing leader (Series B): Fidelity Management and Research Company

Additional financial partners (Series B): New investors Cowen Private Investments, Sanofi-Genzyme BioVentures, Tekla Capital Management, Sphera Global Healthcare Fund, Jennison Associates (on behalf of certain clients), Redmile Group, and Cormorant Asset Management, as well as additional undisclosed “blue chip” mutual funds and “leading” life sciences investors. Existing Ovid investors, including DoubleLine Equity Healthcare Fund, LLC, also participated.

#19. Berkeley Lights

Amount: $90 million

Type: Not specified

Date announced: September 21

Purpose: Advance development of opto-nanofluidic platforms designed to enable interactive biology at the cellular level and empower scientists and researchers to study and interact with single cells “in ways never before possible.”

Financing leaders: Sequoia and Walden Riverwood Ventures

Financial partners: No other investors disclosed

#18. Turing Pharmaceuticals

Amount: $90.3 million2

Type: Series A financing

Date announced: August 10

Purpose: Investment in acquisitions, advancing and accelerating pipeline of novel drug candidates

Financing leader: Martin Shkreli, founder & CEO

Additional financial partners: Undisclosed “multiple preeminent institutional equity investors”

#17. Oxford Nanopore Technologies4

Amount: $99 million (£70 million)

Type: Private placement of ordinary shares.

Date announced: July 21

Purpose: Support improvements to the company’s existing range of products and services; further develop and expand its pipeline; expand manufacturing and commercial activities.

Financing leader: None denoted

Financial partners: Undisclosed new and existing investors in the UK, US and mainland Europe

#16. Innovent Biologics

Amount: $100 million

Type: Series C financing

Date announced: January 22

Purpose: Advance pipeline consisting of eight antibody products, including one approved IND and four additional filed applications, and fund company operations.

Financing leader: Legend Capital

Additional financial partners: Temasek and two undisclosed partners

#15. Helix

Amount: “In excess of” $100 million

Type: Undisclosed “financing commitments”

Date announced: August 18

Purpose: Create a neutral tech platform “at the highest quality standard” that will work with partners to accelerate consumer adoption of genomics.

Financing leaders: Founding investors Illumina, Warburg Pincus, and Sutter Hill Ventures

Additional financial partners: Mayo Clinic is an initial partner that has made an undisclosed “strategic investment” as part of a collaboration between its Center for Individualized Medicine and the company to develop applications initially focused on consumer education and health-related queries.

#14. Gritstone Oncology

Amount: $102 million

Type: Series A financing

Date announced: October 20

Purpose: Support discovery and development of novel tumor-specific neo-antigen (TSNA) based immunotherapies, with an initial focus on lung cancer.

Financing leaders: Versant Ventures and The Column Group, with Clarus Ventures

Additional financial partners: Frazier Healthcare Partners, Redmile Group, Casdin Capital, and Transformational Healthcare Opportunity, a special-purpose vehicle for private investors.

#13. CureVac

Amount: About $110 million (€100 million)

Type: Private placement

Date announced: November 3

Purpose: Further develop clinical pipeline of natural, chemically unmodified messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutic and prophylactic product candidates; fund research and clinical development to expand company’s mRNA platform technology.

Financing leader: New investor Baillie Gifford

Additional financial partners: New investors Chartwave Limited, Coppel family, Elma Investments, and Sigma Group; existing investors dievini Hopp BioTech holding GmbH & Co. KG (Dietmar Hopp), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

#12. 23andMe

Amount: $115 million

Type: Series E financing

Date announced: October 14

Purpose: Expand operations and maximize the potential of its direct-to-consumer product in the U.S. and abroad. The company said it expects to launch a new user experience that includes carrier status reports in the U.S., as well as enhanced tools and functionality for customers by year’s end. Financing will also provide capital for strategic infrastructure—including new laboratory space for therapeutic research, a next generation sequencing laboratory as well as other investments in long-term growth.

Financing leader: Fidelity Management & Research Company

Additional financial partners: New investors Casdin Capital, WuXi Healthcare Ventures and Xfund; as well as existing investors including Illumina, New Enterprise Associates, MPM Capital, and Google Ventures

#11. Mereo

Amount: $119 million

Type: Series A financing

Date announced: July 29

Purpose: Support company launch and advancement of three clinical-stage development programs swapped from Novartis in return for an equity stake and an undisclosed share of milestones and royalties on future commercial sales.

Financing leaders: Woodford Investment Management and Invesco Perpetual

Additional financial partners: None

#10. Editas Medicine

Amount: $120 million

Type: Series B financing

Date announced: August 10

Purpose: Expand company’s editing platform and advance multiple therapeutic programs.

Financing leader: Boris Nikolic, M.D., managing director of bng0, a U.S.-based investment company that was formed to invest exclusively in Editas Medicine

Additional financial partners: Additional new investors that included Deerfield Management, Viking Global Investors, Fidelity Management & Research, funds and accounts managed by T. Rowe Price Associates, Google Ventures, Jennison Associates on behalf of certain clients, Khosla Ventures, EcoR1 Capital, Casdin Capital, Omega Funds, Cowen Private Investments and Alexandria Venture Investments. Founding investors Flagship Ventures, Polaris Partners, Third Rock Ventures, as well as Partners Innovation Fund also participated.

#9. TauRx Pharmaceuticals

Amount: $135 million

Type: Equity financing

Date announced: October 7

Purpose: Support Phase III clinical trials program

Financing leader: None denoted

Additional financial partners: Undisclosed “combination of new investors and existing shareholders”

#8. Humacyte

Amount: $150 million

Type: Series B preferred stock financing

Date announced: October 20

Purpose: Support upcoming global Phase III clinical trials of company’s human acellular vessel (HAV), HUMACYL™, currently being developed to provide vascular access for patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) who require hemodialysis. Funding will also support the development of future pipeline products with the potential to improve treatment outcomes for patients with a variety of vascular and nonvascular diseases, such as coronary artery bypass, replacement trachea and esophagus, and bypass for peripheral arterial disease.

Financing leader: None denoted

Financial partners: Access Industries, Bangkok Bank, Brady Dougan, Pacific Eagle Asset Management, Reignwood Group and Gavril Yushvaev

#7. NantBioscience

Amount: $155 million

Type: Equity offerings

Dates announced: Form D notices filed June 2 ($10 million); May 12 ($100 million); February 6 ($45 million)

Purpose: Not specified

Financing leader: None denoted

Additional financial partners: None denoted

#6. NantCell

Amount: $175 million

Type: Equity offerings of $100 million and $75 million

Date announced: Form D notices filed September 11 ($100 million); June 3 ($75 million)

Purpose: Not specified

Financing leader: None denoted

Additional financial partners: None denoted

#5. Adaptive Biotechnologies

Amount: $195 million

Type: Series F financing

Date announced: May 6

Purpose: Fund “significant” expansion of the company’s research platform, support the commercialization of a novel target identification technology for T-cell therapy, and expedite global regulatory submissions and launch timelines for research-use-only and clinical diagnostic products. Funds will also support continued growth of what the company said is the world’s largest database of adaptive immune receptors, to inform future diagnostic and therapeutic discoveries across disease states.

Financing leader: Matrix Capital Management

Additional financial partners: New investors Senator Investment Group, Tiger Management, Rock Springs Capital and an additional large healthcare investor; as well as existing investors Viking Global, Casdin Capital, and Alexandria Real Estate Equities.

#4. Denali Therapeutics

Amount: $217 million

Type: Initial investment commitment

Date announced: May 14

Purpose: Launch biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of therapies for patients with neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, and others

Financing leader: Founding investors include Fidelity Biosciences, ARCH Venture Partners, Flagship Ventures and the Alaska Permanent Fund (represented by Crestline Investors)

Additional financial partners: Unnamed “sovereign wealth funds, public mutual funds and private family offices, with significant reserves for additional future financing.”

#3. Intarcia Therapeutics

Amount: $300 million

Type: Synthetic royalty financing with an equity conversion option3

Date announced: June 2 (increase from original $225 million financing, announced April 27)

Purpose: Accelerate the launch of additional head-to-head comparative and switch studies of ITCA 650 vs. leading oral and injectable type 2 diabetes therapies; fund the expected infrastructure and talent required to launch ITCA 650 in the U.S.; advance the company's recently in-licensed pipeline assets.

Financing leader: None denoted; Morgan Stanley acted as sole structuring agent

Additional financial partners: None disclosed

#2. Immunocore

Amount: $320 million

Type: Private financing round (oversubscribed)

Date announced: July 16

Purpose: Further accelerate pipeline of ImmTACs (Immune mobilizing mTCR Against Cancer). Company said it will focus in particular on progressing its lead program IMCgp100, which produced positive Phase I/IIa trial data in April in patients with advanced metastatic cutaneous and ocular melanoma.

Financing leader: None denoted

Financial partners: New investors Woodford Investment Management, Malin Corporation, Eli Lilly, and RTW Investments; “a number” of undisclosed new and existing investors. New investors “include some of the most highly regarded international institutions in the healthcare sector,” CEO Eliot Forster said in a statement.

#1. Moderna Therapeutics

Amount: $450 million

Type: Private investment round, which according to one news outlet was the largest ever financing for a privately held biotech company.

Date announced: January 5

Purpose: Support the further expansion of company’s mRNA Therapeutics™ platform across multiple modalities and therapeutic areas.

Financing leader: No leader denoted

Financial partners: New investors Viking Global Investors LP, Invus, RA Capital Management, and Wellington Management Company LLP, as well as existing investors AstraZeneca and Alexion Pharmaceuticals. Additional undisclosed existing investors participated in the financing.

1 Combines $74,999,893 raised in Series B financing (See Form D filing: with equity offering of $5,060,000 (See Form D filing:
2 Company reported raising $90,277,685 in amended Form D, filed August 19. See:
3 Investors have purchased Convertible Limited Recourse Notes from Intarcia and are entitled to receive quarterly payments equal to 2% of any future global net sales of ITCA 650 until the notes mature or are fully paid. Investors also have the option, commencing upon U.S. regulatory approval of ITCA 650 and ending on the later of the second anniversary of the approval or December 31, 2019, to convert their synthetic royalty interests into Intarcia common stock at a conversion price corresponding to an equity valuation of $5.5 billion.
4 The value of the pound dropped on currency exchange markets since July, when the company said in its  press release its financing was equal to $109M.

This article was updated on November 24, 2015 to include Oxford Nanopore Technologies, which was inadvertently left off the original list.

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