Crowdfunding pioneers claim cash-out following biotech launch

A fledgling crowdfunding effort in France has claimed success in completing a rare "virtuous circle" in launching a biotech startup. 

WiSEED founders Nicolas Seres and Thierry Merquiol say they helped launch Antabio--an antibacterial drug discovery outfit--with funds from more than 200 small investors. And two days ago they exited with what they call a "fair return" for the risk involved.

"It is the very first complete virtuous circle for crowdfunding applied to biotech start-ups," the pair says in a prepared statement. And they're claiming nothing less than the start of a financing revolution, raising the prospect that the collective financial power of many small investors can make a big difference in funding new drug developers.

"Beyond the return on investment, this deal is emblematic of the relevance of crowdfunding," boasts Seres. "It allowed setting the wheels in motion at a time when most financial actors decline the opportunity because of the high risk and relatively small amounts at stake. It fosters a cascade of wealth-creation that allows entrepreneurs to focus on their business and core expertise. However, it is important to quickly reward small investors and keep them focused on this seed phase so that they can reinvest in another project, to reinitiate a novel entrepreneurial adventure."

Before anyone gets too carried away, though, it's important to note that the release is short on details, including how much money was involved in this transaction. But crowdfunding has been gaining the industry's attention in recent months, especially after the BioIndustry Association in the U.K. called for new tax incentives to encourage a new crowdfunding initiative in the country similar to the one in France. 

- here's the press release

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