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VC raises new €270m fund for European biotechs

The money will mostly go to companies working on novel therapies

Life sciences venture capital company Forbion has raised €270m in funding for European biotechs, in a sign that investment cash is returning to the sector.

Sander SlootwegThe German-Dutch fund says the new fund – its fourth – was oversubscribed by around €20m and like its predecessors will go mainly (80%) to EU and UK companies working on novel therapies, medical devices and diagnostics, with the remainder looking at opportunities in North America.

Managing partner Sander Slootweg (pictured) – who will manage the new fund alongside Geert-Jan Mulder and Martien van Osch, said that the fund comes against a backdrop of “undersupply of capital for European development-stage life sciences investment”.

“We continue to see the opportunities for superior returns,” he asserted.

Forbion IV is a step up from its last fund, which raised €183m in 2016 with 70% earmarked for Europe companies, and takes the total managed by the company to almost €1bn. According to the VC it will have “an even sharper focus on biotech” and will be used to support around 15 companies, ideally ten in the growth phase a five brand new start-ups co-founded by Forbion. There could also be more to come, with the new fund not due to fully close until the autumn.

Forbion’s fundraising comes shortly after UK- and US-based VC Abingworth raised $315m for another oversubscribed fund destined for investments in early- to late-stage European and US life science companies.

Forbion has chalked up a number of successful exits from its earlier holdings, including the sale of Dezima Pharma to Amgen which netted €1.55bn and the $7bn takeover by AstraZeneca of Acerta, the developer of blockbuster-in-waiting acalabrutinib for lymphoma.

It currently has around 25 companies in its portfolio, including Dutch gene therapy specialist UniQure, UK women’s health start-up KaNDy Therapeutics and US biotech Argos Therapeutics which as an RNA-based kidney cancer drug candidate in late-stage testing.

With a surge of M&A deals involving biotech companies and big biopharma players already this year after a relatively quiet 2017, VC investors are seeing more opportunity to make money on lucrative exit deals. Ernst & Young predicted earlier this year that 2018’s biotech M&A tally will comfortably exceed last year’s $200bn value.

Forbion says its fourth fund will provide “substantial initial stakes of 20-50%, looking to take lead positions and work alongside entrepreneurial management teams” and that it already has a number of investment candidates in mind.

Article by
Phil Taylor

11th July 2018

From: Sales

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