UK biotech sector reports record year of investment

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Pic: getty/claudenakagawa
Pic: getty/claudenakagawa

Related tags Venture capital Uk

A record £3bn ($4bn) has been raised by the UK biotech and life science sector in the first three quarters of 2021.

The figure has already surpassed 2020’s total of £2.8bn ($3.8bn), according to the data released today by the BioIndustry Association (BIA) and data and analytics firm Clarivate.

While the figures are for the UK, Clarivate says they illustrate a wider trend, with global venture capital investment activity in biotech on track to surpass last year’s record. Companies in Massachusetts and San Diego have also already raised more in 2021 to date than the whole of 2020.

More funding for start-ups

In the UK, a total of £576m ($765m) was raised in the latest quarter (June – August). Over this period, two companies secured over £100m ($136m) each and a further three raised over £20m ($27m) each in venture funding to finance their growth. The deals were led by US and Korean investors.

Private deals made up the bulk of investments in the sector in the quarter. £429m ($585m) was raised in venture capital, £70m ($95m) through IPOs, and £78m ($106m) in follow-on public financings. The figures are down compared to the exceptional Q2 of 2021, but significantly above historic levels.

Funding was seen across all series, from seed to B and beyond. Seed funding for start-ups was notably raised compared to previous quarters and years, suggesting a strong pipeline of companies will be looking to scale up in the coming years.

Top UK biotech VC fundraisers, June-August 2021

  • DNA Damage Response company Artios announced £110m ($153m) in series C financing in July. This will propel its DDR-based platform and small molecule drug discovery capabilities, as well as expansion of its ATR inhibitor and Polθ inhibitor program.
    The financing was co-led by Omega Funds and TCG X. Additional investors include Avidity Partners, Invus, Deep Track Capital, Sofinnova Partners, Tetragon Financial Group, RTW Investments LP, Soleus Capital, Piper Heartland Healthcare Capital, CaaS Capital Management, and Schroders Capital. These new investors join existing investors Arix Bioscience plc, SV Health Investors, Andera Partners, LSP (Life Sciences Partners), M Ventures, Pfizer Ventures, IP Group plc, and Novartis Venture Fund who also continue to support Artios through their participation.
  • In June, Apollo Therapeutics completed a £100m ($145m) financing to support its pipeline of 15 therapeutic programs across oncology, major inflammatory disorders and rare disease. The company will expand with US operations in Boston.
    The financing was led by Patient Square Capital, which will take a controlling position in the business, with participation from additional investors including Rock Springs Capital, Reimagined Ventures and UCL Technology Fund. 

Mike Ward, head of thought leadership, life sciences & healthcare, Clarivate said: “Venture capital investment activity in biotech remains robust and is on track globally to surpass last year’s record.

"Indeed, companies in Massachusetts, the San Diego region and the UK have already raised more in the first three quarters than in the whole of 2020.

"This enthusiasm for the sector is underpinned by the appetite for early innovative assets by big pharma, a recognition by investors of the resilience of the biotech sector while other industries struggle, and the record sums available to be put to work by the venture capital industry.”

Steve Bates OBE, chief executive of the BIA, added: “Our task is to use this golden age of fundraising to imbed the UK biotech and life sciences sector as a key industry of the 21st century, to deliver prosperity for the UK economy through providing better treatments for patients.

"Crucial to this mission will be ensuring there is sufficient private and public market capital in the UK for companies to grow to scale long-term here in Britain.

"We want to combine welcome foreign investment with the capital and expertise of the UK finance sector to accelerate innovation and deliver returns for UK investors and savers.”

Related topics Markets & Regulations

Related news

Follow us