European biotech funding on track for record year

11 October 2018

Nick Paul Taylor / FierceBiotech

The European biotech sector is on track to break its annual funding record, according to BioWorld. After a big third quarter, the total for the first nine months of the year stands at $6.3 billion, putting the region on course to clear the $8 billion bar.

European biotechs made a solid start to 2018, pulling in $3.9 billion over the first six months. But the fundraising haul really took off in the third quarter, when major follow-on offerings contributed to the sector pulling in $2.5 billion. The surge means the sector is set to ease past last year’s total of $6.9 billion and puts it a solid quarter away from breaking the $8 billion barrier.

The deals underpinning the sector’s move toward the new fundraising high says something about the state of biotech in the region today. Galapagos, a European biotech with the once-rare aspiration of becoming a midsized, standalone company, led the way with a $346 million follow-on offering that built on positive clinical trial data.

Argenx and ProQR Therapeutics made similar moves to Galapagos, pulling in $301 million and $104 million, respectively, after generating data on clinical-phase candidates. 

The financing highlights the emergence of a clutch of growing European biotechs with aspirations to take drugs deep into the clinic. However, they also show the importance of the U.S. in the fulfillment of these aspirations. Galapagos, Argenx and ProQR are all listed on Nasdaq.

Yet, while Nasdaq is the default option for European biotechs, Idorsia is showing there is another way. Idorsia, which spun out of Actelion following the Johnson & Johnson takeover, used its listing on the Swiss stock exchange to raise $307 million to fund a slate of late-phase trials.

While the follow-on market thrived in the third quarter, the IPO pipeline dried up. The VC world was more active. As previously reported, British biotechs, led by Nasdaq-bound gene therapy player Orchard Therapeutics, raised serious sums of money in the third quarter. Orchard was one of six U.K. companies in the list of top 10 private European financings for the quarter.

The question now is whether European biotechs can maintain the momentum built up in the third quarter and hit a new funding high. Early signs are good. GW Pharmaceuticals got the quarter underway with a $300 million follow-on offering, moving the total for the year above $6.6 billion.


Previous publication Next publication

Media Center

  • 31 October 2018

    Scientists unveiled a more effective approach for assessing drug response

    Scientists from Eli Lilly and Company, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (New York, USA) and Sema4 (Stamford, USA) released results from a proof-of-concept study demonstrating that patient-derived cells offer a more effective approach for assessing drug response than conventional methods.

  • 30 October 2018

    Researchers developed an AI approach to identify antibiotic resistance genes

    Researchers at the University of California San Diego (USA) have developed an approach that uses machine learning to identify and predict which genes make infectious bacteria resistant to antibiotics. The approach was tested on strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis – the bacteria that cause tuberculosis (TB) in humans. It identified 33 known and 24 new antibiotic resistance genes in these bacteria.

  • 29 October 2018

    Expanding the reach of gene editing with a new CRISPR enzyme

    The CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system has been widely studied because of its potential therapeutic applications, but limitations in the number of locations on the genome it can target remain a major drawback. Now scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have identified a new Cas9 enzyme that they say can help CRISPR reach more gene mutations.

  • 26 October 2018

    Biotech Backed by Bain, Pfizer loads prime CNS assets into new biotech

    Pfizer has followed through on its pledge to divest a hunk of its neuroscience R&D, spinning several programs into a new company called Cerevel Therapeutics backed by $350 million in venture funding. Pfizer is contributing a trio of clinical-stage drug candidates—including a Parkinson’s therapy due to start phase 3 testing next year—plus a clutch of earlier-stage programs, while Bain Capital and affiliates stumped up the initial funding.

Read more