October sees boost for biotech funding

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/champc
© GettyImages/champc

Related tags Vaccines COVID-19 Oncology Venture capital equity

Biotech funding kicked back into higher gear in October, pushing toward the summer monthly record highs with $10.5B raised, writes analyst firm, Jefferies

Private investment in public equity (PIPE) funding nearly quintupled, driving growth of 145% year-on-year, said the team.

Funds from Initial Public Offering (IPO) and Follow Ons (FO) saw triple digit growth levels, while venture capital (VC) backing of biotechs grew as well, but only at a modest 16%, they noted.

The review also noted that the resumption of the Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and AstraZeneca (AZ) Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine studies is benefiting global contract research organizations (CROs) such as IQV, PPD, and ICLR.

IQV is partnering both JNJ and AZ in their vaccine trials, while PPD's and ICLR's site networks are being used in the JNJ trial.

IPOs deliver

October saw 21 biotech related IPOs, they said, generating some US$3.5bn in funding, up 150% year-on-year. In October last year, there were 14 such IPOs, they noted.

The two largest offerings last month were Hong Kong listings involving Chinese biotechs, Everest Medicines (US$519m) and JHBP Holdings (US$402m).

Everest has eight clinical-stage drug candidates across oncology, immunology, cardio-renal disease, and infection diseases to address unmet medical needs, initially in China and the Asia Pacific markets. JHBP is a holding company for Genor Biopharma, a company focused on oncology and auto-immune drug development.

Listings on US-based exchanges performed strongly, too, with 106% year-on-year growth aided by six of 17 IPOs surpassing US$150M raised, observed the capital market experts.

Follow-on offerings reached US$3.2bn, nearly tripling year-on-year from last October, they added.

The analysts said the US$1bn for Mirati Therapeutics Inc follow-on offering alone nearly matched last October's total, with other notable offerings including US$460M for Turning Point Therapeutics, Inc, and US$400M for Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical.

Quieter on the venture capital front  ​ 

VC funding had a quieter October than it did in recent months, posting a 16% gain after more than doubling in August and September, said the biopharma sector investment specialists.

The US$1.6bn raised last month came from 39 deals with an average deal size of US$40.8M. As with IPO funding, the largest VC raise came in the Hong Kong market, with Zhaoke Ophthalmology generating US$145M, noted the Jefferies team.

There was robust PIPE funding among biotechs spanning various therapeutic areas - oncology pharmaceutical developer, Seagen raised US$1bn, oral COVID-19 vaccine candidate producer, Vaxart, generated US$250M, while Chinese immune-oncology focused company, Cstone, raised US$200M, wrote the analysts. 

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