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UK biotech beats fundraising records in 2015, says BIA

Record-breaking amount accounts for a third of all EU biotech venture finance last year

UKProblems with access to early-stage funding for the UK biotech sector seem to be receding, with venture finance reaching £489m last year.

The record-breaking amount accounted for a third of all biotech venture capital funding raised across Europe in 2015 and a sizeable chunk of an unprecedented £900m raised by biotechs on the London Stock Exchange, according to a report from the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA) compiled with the help of the LSE and Evaluate.

A key trend in the year was for fewer but more sizeable VC deals. BIA chief executive Steve Bates pointed to examples such as Immunocore's record-breaking £205m round as evidence of a growing maturity in the UK sector as it strives to become "the third global biotech cluster".

Despite a cooling-off in initial public offering (IPO) activity of late, UK companies accounted for more than a quarter of IPO money raised by European biotechnology companies in 2015.

Moreover, the decline in IPOs was more than compensated by a near-four-fold increase in follow-on financing suggesting that UK biotechs "can continue to build momentum through accessing further funds as they grow".

According to the report, the UK remains an R&D powerhouse, with 585 pipeline projects in development - well ahead of other European countries - and the country is also ahead of its peers in terms of the number of drugs in phase II trials and getting new products approved.

Despite the many positives, the BIA sounds a note of caution as issues such as uncertainty caused by the Brexit referendum later this month and reports of a lack of seed capital for UK firms show "there is no room for complacency".

Last month, more than 90 top executives in the UK's biopharma industry added their names to an open letter warning of "complexity and uncertainty" if the UK votes to leave the EU on 23 June.

"How we can sustain start-up momentum, alongside scaling-up UK life sciences companies that the country needs to feature as a top three global cluster, should be the shared focus across industry, government and investors in 2016," said Bates.

Article by
Phil Taylor

16th June 2016

From: Sales

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