1. AbCellera Biologics
Deal size: $483 million
Valuation: $5 billion
Share price: $20.00
Shares sold: 24,150,000
Canada’s speedy R&D engine AbCellera—now world-renowned for its platform that helped produce the Eli Lilly COVID-19 drug authorized by the FDA—has been around since 2012, but it certainly isn’t an COVID-only company.
The Vancouver-based AbCellera, which is not a biotech but uses artificial intelligence to speed up drug research, is a 2020 Fierce 15 winner and was now famously tapped by Lilly to find the human antibody bamlanivimab (LY-CoV555) last March.
The Big Pharma swiftly developed the drug and, late last year, got off an emergency use agreement with the FDA to treat certain COVID-19 patients, putting AbCellera on the map. That certainly didn’t hurt its IPO chances, long in the making, to bring it to a massive $483 million, the largest biotech IPO of the year. That's a lower total than the largest of last year from Genmab, which raised $506 million, but still a huge number for such a little-known company before 2020.
And it’s not resting on its laurels. The drug discovery company wants the speed it saw with Lilly—both the deal it knocked out in March and the swiftness of getting that antibody from trial to patients—to become the norm in R&D.