Arix files for £100M IPO to invest in early-stage biotechs

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Arix Bioscience will use the IPO haul to expand its portfolio beyond its current five investments.

Arix Bioscience has filed to raise £100 million ($127 million) in an IPO to bankroll investments in 10 to 15 early-stage biotechs. The UCB-partnered investment group hopes to leverage the money, links to academic centers and accelerators around the world and the experience of a leadership team including Sir Chris Evans to build a portfolio of high-potential drug development startups.

London-based Arix is designed to funnel scientific discoveries and investment opportunities from around the world to a team of biotech, VC and Big Pharma veterans for evaluation. Having raised £52 million privately in February 2016, Arix’s tendrils had pulled in 452 opportunities for the team to review as of November. Arix invested in five of these opportunities, and it is now ready to back two or three times as many again by adding £100 million to its operation.

“Arix has privileged access to some of the world’s most innovative businesses via links with academia, research accelerators, our own fund management organization and extensive industry networks. We believe we can build businesses which improve outcomes for patients and unlock value for investors,” Arix CEO Joe Anderson said in a statement.

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Anderson, who spent 12 years as a partner at Abingworth, is one of several notable names on the senior leadership team at Arix. Evans, a serial company creator, serves as deputy chairman. Former Amgen and Novartis CFO Jonathan Peacock occupies the role of chairman. Franz Humer, the former CEO of Roche, is involved as a senior independent nonexecutive director.

To date, the team has overseen direct investments in five companies, including well-funded CAR-T startup Autolus, DNA damage response player Artios Pharma and OptiKira, a biotech Arix is connected to through its relationship with U.S. accelerator BioMotiv.

Arix’s investment in BioMotiv, ownership of Arthurian Life Sciences and agreement with research sites including the Max Planck Lead Discovery Center give it an indirect stake in more startups and a source of investment opportunities. The list of Arix’s academic agreements includes universities in Dundee and Manchester, institutions that are based well outside of the U.K.’s life science hotbed but have well-established reputations in biopharma.

The plan is to strike agreements with more universities and build out the industrial partnership side of the operation. Arix has already teamed up with UCB for a partnership that could see them build companies together. Discussions with other biopharma companies are underway.

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