Since taking over the Fierce 15 awards from former editor-in-chief John Carroll a few years back, I’ve been nothing but impressed by the determination, passion, science, and genuine love I hear from CEOs, CSOs and other executives of these plucky young private biotechs.
They all care deeply about biomedical science and understand the unique pressure to translate every penny they've raised into something truly innovative for patients. And though many of our Fierce 15 winners could have hung up their lab coats or business suits long ago—they have enough personal wealth to forgo the risks inherent in biotech—they're still here trying to make a difference and find a way through a dark and often forbidding path.
And it seems that this passion is infectious when it comes to luring investors. At the beginning of September, figures out of Pitchbook for Forbes showed that venture capital funding of healthcare startups hit record numbers, with $20 billion funneled into 1,186 deals during the first eight months of 2018, up 59% from a year ago and up nearly 180% from a decade ago.
We’re seeing evidence of that swell this year with some of the biggest funding rounds for Fierce 15 ever. Rounds are hitting $100 million, with several swelling to $200 million-plus. A handful are already eyeing IPOs in the next year as the window for biotech public offerings appears to be wide open, even for some very early-stage companies.
This year’s 15 winners saw in total a massive $1.36 billion in funding rounds and capital commitments. Four topped $100 million, with most others between $40 million and $60 million. It’s not all about the money, of course; they will all need to deliver, but they have the cash to make their visions into reality.
Fierce 15 season is my favorite time of year, although when we come together to pick the winners, it’s by far the hardest. So many are worthy, but only 15 will remain: We know those we pick will likely go on and gain better traction with the money men and women, but they will also face a little added pressure from being in the public eye. We make it our duty to follow them: A Fierce 15 winner is for life, not just for fall, and we hope we make the right choices every time.
|Arrakis Therapeutics||Kronos Bio|
|Beam Therapeutics||Pandion Therapeutics|
|Brii Biosciences||Quentis Therapeutics|
|FLX Bio||Senti Biosciences|
|Gossamer Bio||Tmunity Therapeutics|