Abingworth raises $315M to place transatlantic biotech bets

London, the location of one of Abingworth’s offices. (Pixabay)

Abingworth has raised a $315 million (€267 million) life sciences venture fund. The British VC shop will use the cash to continue placing bets on early to late-stage biotechs at home and abroad.

The fund, ABV VII, will follow the same blueprint as Abingworth’s earlier vehicles, which have backed British biotechs such as GammaDelta Therapeutics while venturing across the pond to get a piece of CRISPR Therapeutics and other U.S. stars.

That strategy has led to successes on both sides of the Atlantic. Abingworth took a cut of the $855 million Alexion paid to buy Swedish rare disease player Wilson Therapeutics, as well as some of the $300 million Bristol-Myers Squibb bet upfront on Boston’s IFM Therapeutics. Abingworth sees its ability to seize opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic as central to its success.

BD&L Summit

Deal-Making Insights for the Life Sciences Industry

Bringing together key deal-makers and serving as an open forum for cross-functional business development and legal teams to share valuable insights and actionable strategies on successfully managing alliances, licensing agreements, and M&A deals.

“We believe that Abingworth's transatlantic presence has contributed significantly to our successful life sciences strategy,” Abingworth managing partner Kurt von Emster said in a statement. “It has increased deal flow and expanded access to markets as well as broadened our network of entrepreneurs, management and investors.”

While Abingworth’s transatlantic presence has been a constant throughout its recent funds, the VC shop has tweaked other aspects of its strategy. Notably, the size of Abingworth’s life science funds has decreased over the past decade.

In 2007, Abingworth raised £300 million—then worth $587 million—for its fifth ABV fund, but that proved to be the high-water mark. Abingworth unveiled its first postrecession fund in 2014, pulling in £225 million. Speaking at the time, Abingworth’s Stephen Bunting told BioCentury investors in VC vehicles “seem to prefer slightly smaller funds these days.”

The post-Brexit shift in the Sterling-Dollar exchange rate and Abingworth’s use of different currencies in its releases cloud comparisons of the fund sizes. But the seventh ABV fund is clearly smaller than the whopper Abingworth raised in 2007.