Moderna raises $500M to move mRNA drugs deeper into human tests

Moderna has raised $500 million from private investors. The huge series G round equips Moderna to gather more data on its pipeline of mRNA candidates and build out its manufacturing capabilities ahead of its long-anticipated IPO.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna looked well beyond the familiar circle of U.S. biotech VCs to raise the money. Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Julius Baer, the investment arm of the Singapore Economic Development Board and Sequoia Capital China all contributed to the round. The new backers were joined by some of the companies that participated in its earlier rounds, including Fidelity, Pictet and Viking Global Investors.

The series G leaves Moderna with $1.4 billion in the bank. The biotech has access to a further $250 million in grants.

That gives Moderna the means to continue burning through cash over the next couple of years. The question is whether it will emerge from that period with data to support further financing at an even higher valuation. Moderna is now valued at $7 billion, according to PitchBook, which broke news of the round. The biotech would look to comfortably top that valuation in an IPO. If that happens, it will be easily the largest biotech listing of all time. 

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For now, Moderna has bought itself more time out of the glare of public investors. The biotech will use the time to push some of its mRNA candidates into phase 2 trials, invest in the manufacturing infrastructure that is critical to its long-term plans and lay the early-stage groundwork for waves of new pipeline prospects. 

Moderna positioned itself to embark on those efforts over the past two years, during which time it began its evolution into a clinical-phase biotech. 

“We continue to execute across the organization and against our goal of rapidly building a pipeline of mRNA medicines, which we have demonstrated by moving 10 candidates into the clinic over the past 24 months,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement. “We have demonstrated an ability to scale our platform and introduce new development candidates across multiple disease modalities, including promising opportunities in rare disease, immuno-oncology and cardiovascular and infectious diseases.”