BioNTech raises $325M series B round to advance cancer pipeline

BioNTech's headquarters
BioNTech's headquarters. (BioNTech)

BioNTech has raised $325 million (€289 million) in a private fundraising round. The series B positions the immuno-oncology player to advance its multidrug clinical pipeline and grow its manufacturing footprint. 

Mainz, Germany-based BioNTech operated for a decade without raising a headline-grabbing round, opting instead to run on money from its billionaire majority owners and partnership fees, such as the $310 million in upfront and near-term milestones put up by Genentech. That changed early in 2018 when BioNTech raised $270 million in a Redmile Group-led series A round. 

Now, BioNTech has raised $325 million in a round led by Fidelity Management & Research Company. Other existing investors including Redmile and the Struengmann Family Office contributed to the series B round, but two-thirds of the cash came from new investors.

BioNTech will use the cash to build on the work facilitated by its series A round. The company now has seven candidates in eight clinical trials. BioNTech’s most advanced assets are derived from its mRNA platform, which established it as a rival to CureVac and Moderna. But the pipeline now also features cell therapies, small molecules and immune checkpoint modulators. 

The expansion and advancement of the pipeline has dialed up BioNTech’s fundraising needs. Some of the additional cash will fund studies of the candidates. Another slice will enable the expansion of BioNTech’s manufacturing capacity to support drug development and potentially commercialization.

Talking to Reuters at the time of the series A round, BioNTech identified the need to “invest enormously in manufacturing” as a key driver of its ongoing hunger for large sums of money. Reports earlier in the year suggested that BioNTech would sate that hunger with an $800 million IPO around the end of 2019. Crossover investors are among the organizations to contribute to the series B round.

In returning to private investors, BioNTech has raised one of the largest ever private biotech rounds in Europe. Immunocore raised a $320 million series A round in 2015, but few other European biotechs have raised triple-digit private rounds, let alone secured hauls of more than $300 million.