8. Brii Biosciences

How Brii stacked up against other Big Biopharmas
Brii Biosciences launched with $260 million and partnerships with Vir Biotechnologies, WuXi and Alibaba. (Eli Richman/FierceBiotech)

Amount: $260 million
Round: Seed capital
Date: May
Investors: 6 Dimensions Capital, ARCH Venture Partners, Blue Pool Capital, Boyu Capital, Sequoia Capital, Yunfeng Capital 

The scoop: Brii Biosciences CEO Zhi Hong, Ph.D., learned during his 11-year tenure at GlaxoSmithKline that the biopharma business couldn’t just be about R&D. 

“You have to think about how to deliver innovation to as many people as you can, [because] no matter how innovative your product can be, if it cannot be utilized by as many people as possible, then the value of the innovation is not fully realized," he said. 

So he co-founded Brii Biosciences, a biotech with a mission to improve public health in China through a three-pronged strategy: partnerships, best-in-class R&D and the application of digital and data insight. The Shanghai-based startup launched with $260 million and three partnerships, including deals with Vir Biotechnologies and WuXI.

Brii inked an agreement to license up to four of Vir's assets in China, and its WuXi deal covers access to WuXi AppTec and WuXi Biologics' R&D capabilities. Brii is also working with Alibaba on digital approaches to developing and delivering new drugs.

After its launch, the company started working with Vir to develop an RNA interference drug for hepatitis B and added a fourth partnership, this time with VBI Vaccines. Brii handed over $11 million upfront in a license and collaboration agreement covering VBI’s recombinant, protein-based immuno-therapeutic for hepatitis B, VBI-2601. 

8. Brii Biosciences