Ablynx inks €4B Merck I-O deal; Big hitters give KalVista $33M; Israeli biotechs grab $209M

Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. European biotechs followed up last week's jaw-dropping $320 million (€290 million) investment in Immunocore with a series of smaller, but nonetheless notable, pitches to line their pockets. Ablynx (EBR:ABLX) led the way with an expansion of its immuno-oncology pact with Merck ($MRK). If everything comes off, Ablynx will find itself €4 billion richer. The snag? Almost all of the money is tied to milestones, with Merck handing over just €13 million upfront. A trio of Israeli biotechs and KalVista Pharmaceuticals can start counting their hauls much sooner. Chiasma ($CHMA) pulled off its IPO, picking up $101.8 million in the process, while its compatriots NeuroDerm ($NDRM) and RedHill Biopharma ($RDHL) scooped up $66.9 million and $40 million, respectively, in share offerings. KalVista is still private but now boasts a crossover fund on its list of investors. RA Capital Management led the $33 million Series B round, which also attracted cash from Novo A/S and SV Life Sciences to fund development of KalVista's pipeline of plasma kallikrein inhibitors. Although money still is swilling around Europe, one notable funding faucet is slowing down. Kelly Martin's Malin may make one more investment before the end of the year, but after that its post-IPO spending spree will end and the hard graft of growing the portfolio will start. Talking up the benefits of relocating to Ireland is part of the strategy for the next phase. Across the Irish Sea in the United Kingdom, a government-commissioned report dug into data on the cost of collaborating with the region's universities. The upshot is that such collaborations are expensive--at least before tax breaks and funding schemes are factored in--but plenty of companies think they are worthwhile, most notably Pfizer ($PFE), which is the most prolific foreign partner of U.K. academic institutions. And more. Nick Taylor (email | Twitter)

1. Merck extends Ablynx immuno-oncology relationship with heavily backloaded €4B deal

Ablynx has extended its immuno-oncology pact with Merck, boosting its potential earnings from the alliance by €4 billion ($4.4 billion) through the addition of up to 12 new programmes. But Ablynx will have to wait a while for its paydays, with just €13 million of the cash arriving as an upfront payment.

2. KalVista snags $33M from big-name VCs to speed plasma kallikrein inhibitors into clinic

KalVista Pharmaceuticals has persuaded Novo A/S, SV Life Sciences and some other notable VCs to part with $33 million (€29 million). The cash will go toward advancing KalVista's pipeline of plasma kallikrein inhibitors, the most advanced of which is set to enter Phase II next year.

3. Israeli biotechs scoop $209M as Nasdaq ATM keeps pumping out dollars

A trio of Israeli biotechs have bagged $209 million (€192 million) through share offerings on Nasdaq. Chiasma led the way with a $101.8 million IPO, trailed by follow-on offerings by NeuroDerm and RedHill Biopharma that pulled in $66.9 million and $40 million, respectively.

4. Kelly Martin's Malin looks to lure biotechs to Ireland as initial investment spree nears end

Having committed €73 million ($79 million) to Immunocore's huge fundraising round, Kelly Martin's Malin has now nearly doled out the first tranche of the money it raised in its IPO. And as such the focus at Malin is shifting to helping its portfolio companies to grow, a process that will entail talking up the merits of setting up shop in Ireland.

5. Report: U.K. academic R&D alliances are expensive but worth it

A report commissioned by the United Kingdom government has found data to corroborate a widely held belief: R&D collaborations with British universities are expensive. Yet with such institutions performing world-class science--and tax breaks and funding schemes offsetting the upfront costs--Big Pharma is lining up to strike deals. Just ask Pfizer.

And more articles of note >>

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