EureKARE raises $60M to create EU synbio and microbiome startups

EureKARE has raised a $60 million series A round to fund the creation and advancement of synthetic biology and microbiome startups. The cash will enable eureKARE to build companies around science at European labs, bridging a perceived gap in the biopharma environment.

Synthetic biology and the microbiome have at times been hyped areas of research and European teams have contributed to the advancement of both fields. Yet, eureKARE has identified a disconnect in the process that translates breakthrough early-stage science into product candidates, leading it to raise money to help take projects out of labs.

“There are many labs in the two fields that we have selected  ... which have never been approached actually by funds, by investors. So there's a huge opportunity. There are many, many projects we find interesting that could be financed,” eureKARE CEO Rodolphe Besserve said. 

EureKARE, which was founded and backed by Spinoza Foundation chairman Alexandre Mouradian, has persuaded high-net-worth investors and family offices to back its plans, reeling in $60 million in series A funds. The money will enable eureKARE to create three to five ventures a year, as well as invest in a similar number of existing companies from series B onwards to manage its risk and help build ecosystems of synthetic biology and microbiome businesses.

While eureKARE is using the money to fund other companies, Besserve draws distinctions between its model and those of traditional VC shops. Besserve said eureKARE doesn’t want clauses such as a liquidation preference or ratchets and is focused on fully aligning itself with the companies it creates.

“It starts with a relationship that you've got with the scientist or the founder of the company. From a financial point of view, from a human point of view, you need to be aligned with the people that you finance, which is not always the case when looking at what the traditional VCs do,” Besserve said.

Besserve said VCs “do a very, very good job” but he sees an opportunity for an investment company that works in a different way. “I think we do complimentary things,” Besserve, a former managing director at investment bank Société Générale, said.

Scientists who work with eureKARE to build companies around their research will benefit from the support Besserve and his colleagues provide through two biotech start-up studios, eureKABIOME and eureKASYNBIO. The studios don’t have physical space, like incubators, but will help with all the work that goes into setting up and running a biotech.

“It can be IP, it can be IT, it can be [business development], it can be of course financing, and so on. We will do it for [the founder]. So, we will bring all the tools, all the resources to do that,” Besserve said. “We are not asset managers, per se, we are really operational guys.”

EureKARE has started to invest its money. Stellate Therapeutics, Omne Possibile and NovoBiome are the first crop of biotechs, exposing eureKARE to work on the gut-brain axis, gut-liver axis and xeno nucleic acids.