Flagship brings in $2.6B via 8th fund, with another $1B coming from other projects

Flagship Pioneering has brought in $2.6 billion via its eighth venture fund, with a further $1 billion coming from an array of side funds, as the venture creation firm hunts for even more Big Pharma partnerships.

While still eye-raising, the $2.6 billion for Flagship VIII falls below the $3 billion that Flagship had aimed for when plans for the fund were filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in November 2023. Still, when combined with side funds from an array of big-name partnerships, the firm has in fact raised its capital base by $3.6 billion, according to the July 10 release.

Those partnerships include committing $50 million in July 2023 to a 10-program pact with Pfizer. Last month, the two companies revealed the first target: Pfizer will work with Flagship’s ProFound Therapeutics to develop new obesity drugs.

A 2022 cardiometabolic and rare-disease-focused agreement with Novo Nordisk has also focused on obesity in recent months, when the Danish Big Pharma announced it would work with Flagship-founded Metaphore Biotechnologies to develop up to two candidates for the indication.

The combined influx of new money announced today means Flagship is now operating with an aggregate capital pool of $10.9 billion, with $14 billion of assets under management.

"Flagship Fund VIII is backed by a diverse group of investors globally—both new and longstanding limited partners—and we are grateful for their support of the work we do to create breakthrough innovations that address some of the world's most critical challenges," Flagship’s CEO and founder Noubar Afeyan, Ph.D., said in the release.

“This expanded capital pool will enable us to drive scientific discovery, with a portfolio that reflects a compelling combination of platforms, products, and impact,” Afeyan added. “This capital will greatly fuel our origination activities and accelerate value creation from our transformational companies.”

Flagship's previous fund, Flagship VII, brought in $3.4 billion, and Afeyan told Fierce at the start of the year that the firm was still operating with this fund, although the CEO wouldn’t comment at the time about any future fundraising plans.

Flagship went global last year, opening new offices in London and Singapore as part of a concerted expansion of the venture creation firm’s startup ecosystem. 

Meanwhile, Flagship's in-house drug development unit has led the Pfizer and Novo partnerships, and the firm said today that this operation has grown to “over 100 people with a pipeline of 10 therapeutics under development and plans to expand with additional partnerships.”

Since the close of Flagship VII in 2021, Flagship and co-investors have sunk an aggregate $5.8 billion of equity capital into its current ecosystem of companies, the firm explained in this morning’s release.

However, it hasn’t been plain sailing for every ship in Flagship’s fleet recently. Among the biotechs that Flagship decided to name-check in today’s release, Sana Biotechnology laid off 29% of staff and narrowed its therapeutic focus in October 2023, while Foghorn Therapeutics had to endure a couple of clinical holds by the FDA last year.