Forbion raises $200M for EU and North American biotechs

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Life sciences VC firm Forbion Capital Partners has secured a $208 million investment in its third funding round as it looks to invest in cutting-edge meds.

The investment will focus on European, U.S. and Canadian private with a major focus on companies developing original drugs, medical devices and diagnostics for high, or even unmet, medical needs, according to the firm’s statement.

This is third time the Netherlands-based VC has raised capital for the life science industry. In its previous round, the firm invested the majority of the fund in Europe and the remainder in North America, and it said it aims to do the same third-time round.

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The fund has already invested in seven portfolio companies, including Engene, Staten Biotech and Akarna, which cover a range of disease areas including cancer, kidney disease, fatty liver disease (NASH), and pain management.

Sander Slootweg, managing partner at Forbion, said: “Our new portfolio is already showing great promise. Canadian molecular therapeutics company EnGene, inventors of the so-called ‘Gene Pill’, has closed two major pharma collaborations since we led the Series B financing round in 2015.

“In the UK, oncolytic immunotherapy company, Replimune secured a substantial and attractively priced USD 30m Series A round after we provided the seed capital. As several more companies are currently enjoying strategic interest, this bodes well for the success of [the third round of funding].”

Cambridge, UK-based Akarna Therapeutics has also turned heads in recent months after gaining $15 million in a recent Series B round (which included Forbion) as it will use the funds to accelerate the development of its lead drug candidate through Phase I studies in patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH.

Akarna has now set itself up against the likes of Intercept Pharmaceuticals ($ICPT), Gilead Sciences ($GILD, Genfit and Enanta Pharmaceuticals ($ENTA) in finding a new therapy for patients with NASH, a progressive form of fatty-liver disease for which there are no approved treatments.

The therapy area could prove a major blockbuster market however, with VCs like Forbion putting its money where its mouth is to see if Akarna can get it on this market, despite likely being third or fourth to market as things stand.

A number of investors got involved in this latest round, with European Investment Fund, the Dutch Venture Initiative and Germany’s KfW development bank among a number of groups stumping up the cash, with various other regional investment agencies, pension funds, insurance companies, leading European family offices also getting in on the act.

-check out the release

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