ElevateBio takes fundraising crown with $401M series D, adds Novo Nordisk to growing army of partners

Move over, ReNAgade Therapeutics. After just one day, ElevateBio’s $401 million haul has already bumped the RNA company’s $300 million series A out of the running for the largest private biotech fundraise of 2023. 

But that’s not all. In connection with the hefty financing, cell and gene therapy-focused ElevateBio has also inked a partnership with Novo Nordisk—one that could make the Waltham, Massachusetts-based biotech around $2 billion in biobucks.

“We've raised about $1.25 billion in the last five and a half years—the majority of our capital is still on our balance sheet,” ElevateBio CEO David Hallal told Fierce Biotech. “So we're in a really nice position of strength. We're very disciplined.”

David Hallal
CEO David Hallal (ElevateBio )

“We're seeing greater and greater demand for the ElevateBio ecosystem—our technology stack, our manufacturing capabilities and, of course, even our therapeutic development expertise,” Hallal continued. The new money gives ElevateBio “degrees of freedom” to continue to grow, the CEO added.

The latest fundraise was led by Matrix Capital Management’s new fund AyurMaya Capital Management. Danish Big Pharma Novo Nordisk has also joined, adding to the deep existing investor syndicate.

Hallal acknowledged that both public and private markets are challenging environments right now for biotechs but said that high-quality, innovative companies still have the opportunity to raise capital. The company has more “degrees of freedom”—or varying opportunities— being private versus IPOing right now, Hallal said, citing the ability to act without the judgment of the public market.  

“With this quantum of capital, should we ever choose to be public, we can do it opportunistically as opposed to out of necessity … and that's a wonderful place to be,” the CEO said.

The financing follows a $525 million series C in 2021—the second highest private biotech fundraise for the year. Since then, ElevateBio has advanced its tech platforms to allow for the development of both in vivo and ex vivo therapeutics.

The company will now funnel its new money into building out its tech platforms and manufacturing business. The biotech touts several R&D platforms, including induced pluripotent stem cells; RNA, cell, protein and vector engineering tech; and a gene editing platform dubbed Life Edit.

The eye-popping $401 million will also go toward BaseCamp, ElevateBio's end-to-end genetic medicine manufacturing and process development business, and will help the 500-employee company continue expanding its geographic reach.

In connection with Novo Nordisk’s participation in the series D financing, ElevateBio’s subsidiary Life Edit Therapeutics has partnered with the Big Pharma to develop base editing therapies.

Novo has paid an undisclosed cash fee upfront for the multi-target deal that spans numerous undisclosed indications. The pharma is also giving Life Edit the chance to bring in milestone payments ranging from $250 million to $335 million for each of the seven programs included in the collaboration. Life Edit has also been given the choice to opt into a global profit share for one program.

Novo Nordisk is focused on developing more therapies for more patients, and because of that, sees a need to expand its technologies, Karina Thorn, Ph.D., Novo’s corporate vice president of RNA and gene therapies, told Fierce Biotech.

“We saw a great match from the technological side, the biological side and, of course, with generating curative therapies,” Thorn said about Life Edit.

The gene editing platform includes a large library of base editors and RNA-guided nucleases (RGNs). The RGNs are smaller than other conventional nucleases—such as those currently used for CRISPR-Cas9—which could boost versatility for delivery.   

It’s this diverse and flexible library that drew Novo in, according to Thorn. The partnership expands on the Big Pharma's years of work in gene therapy, gene editing and RNA technologies, Thorn said, citing a 2019 pact with bluebird bio’s 2seventy for in vivo genome editing and the 2021 acquisition of Dicerna Pharmaceuticals and its RNAi tech.

ElevateBio is also building out its network, inking deals with more than 15 biopharma partners over the past year, including a gene editing pact with Moderna signed in February. The Big Biotech is combining its mRNA platform with Life Edit’s suite of gene editing tools to go after a set of unnamed therapeutic targets. 

Alongside these multiple collaborations, ElevateBio has its own pipeline of cellular, genetic and regenerative medicines, though candidates haven’t been publicly disclosed.

The company aims to become “the world’s most indispensable cell and gene therapy technology company,” according to Hallal.

“We've navigated through obviously a difficult capital market environment,” the CEO explained. “Now, I think the challenge is really competing with ourselves—being able to manage a fairly diverse business.”