Flagship Pioneering adds a new $824M biotech growth fund

In 2018, Flagship backed its companies to the tune of $294 million, launching five companies and unveiling three others that had been operating quietly. (Flagship Pioneering)

Flagship Pioneering has raised $824 million for a new fund to support biotech and health companies that have come up through its Flagship Labs foundry. The capital comes from “new institutional investors and family officers” as well as “long-time limited partners” and follows a similar fund closed in 2016. 

Now, Flagship Pioneering plans to grow its team of executive partners and “provide additional growth resources to our ecosystem of companies,” said Noubar Afeyan, Ph.D., Flagship’s CEO and founder, in a statement. The capital will join more than $700 million raised over the last couple of years that bankrolls Flagship’s in-house innovation and company-creating activities, the company said. 

The new fund, dubbed the Special Opportunities Fund II, eclipsed its predecessor, the Special Opportunities Fund I, which raised $285 million in 2016. 

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"With each year of company origination, as we have honed our pioneering approach, we have steadily increased our capacity to launch transformative ventures," Afeyan said. "Our new fund will complement our origination capabilities with new capital to grow platform companies more rapidly.”

In 2018, Flagship backed its companies to the tune of $294 million. It launched five new companies and saw four of its companies go public: Rubius Therapeutics, Evelo Biosciences, Kaleido Biosciences and Moderna Therapeutics. Three of its companies also came out of stealth last year, including Foghorn Therapeutics, a biotech working to understand the body’s chromatin regulatory system in order to create drugs for cancer and other diseases. 

And Flagship is showing no signs of letting up in 2019. In January, it launched a cancer startup, Cygnal, which had spent two years in its foundry. Pearl Huang, the former SVP at Roche and BeiGene founder will lead the biotech as it develops drugs targeting the peripheral nervous system for cancer and other diseases.