Biogen linked to $100M Israeli fund; Sofinnova founds biotech accelerator; Genfit plans IPO

Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. Our top stories this week involve big names of the global biopharma world getting together to support startups in Europe. In Israel, Biogen ($BIIB) and a key employee in the early years of Genentech are considering contributing cash to a $100 million (€93 million) VC fund. Former CEOs of Pfizer ($PFE) and Celgene ($CELG) are involved, too. Over in Italy, Sofinnova Partners has reunited with the serial entrepreneurs behind EOS to set up a biotech accelerator. While the developments are potentially good news for startups, more mature members of the European biopharma sector experienced a mixed week. Meda spent the week downplaying the likely impact of its links to Valeant ($VRX) on its business and M&A strategy. Genfit (EPA:GNFT) unveiled its Phase III trial design and discussed its desire to list on Nasdaq. And Macrocure showed what happens when such studies flop by axing two-thirds of its staff. And more. Nick Taylor (email | Twitter)

1. Israeli biotech royalty in talks with Biogen about $100M VC fund

Biogen ($BIIB) is in talks about contributing money to a $100 million (€93 million) Israeli biotech VC fund. The fund is being set up by Yuval Cabilly, the son of a scientist who invented technology used by a laundry list of blockbuster biologics during his time working with Genentech.

2. Sofinnova teams with Italian biotech vets to set up startup accelerator

Sofinnova Partners is setting up an Italian biotech accelerator in partnership with the entrepreneurs who guided EOS to a $420 million (€394 million) buyout. The team's first move was hook up with a tech transfer company in a deal that will give the accelerator a source of potential biotech startups.

3. Genfit heading toward Nasdaq IPO as PhIII NASH trial revs up

Genfit (EPA:GNFT) is working its way toward an IPO on Nasdaq. Listing in the U.S. would give Genfit's bank balance a boost at a time when it is facing the prospect of a €150 million ($160 million) bill for an upcoming Phase III trial of its nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) drug, elafibranor.

4. Macrocure axes staff as PhIII flops take toll on prospects

Macrocure ($MCUR) is hunkering down, laying off two-thirds of its staff and weighing up strategic alternatives as it seeks a way forward for the company. The actions follow a pair of Phase III flops that wiped 90% off Macrocure's share price and left its pipeline in tatters.

5. Meda dismisses fears links to Valeant will hinder M&A plan

Fallout from the scandal engulfing Valeant ($VRX) has hit Meda (STO:MEDA-A), which outlicensed the North American rights to a pair of dermatology drugs to the troubled specialty pharma company in 2011. But while Meda has acknowledged that the royalties it receives from Valeant are set to fall by 50%, management has dismissed the possibility of the decline holding back its M&A strategy.

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