- Elevate Bio, a well-funded biotech startup led by former Alexion Pharmaceuticals executives, has raised another $525 million in venture funding to fuel expansion of an unusual business model that blends in-house research with a technology platform meant to advance the work of Elevate's partners.
- Elevate's focus is cell and gene therapy, a fast-growing field that it aims to accelerate by offering companies access to centralized research and manufacturing resources. So far, Elevate is partnered with Allovir, HighPassBio and LifeEDIT Therapeutics, and has formed a 10-year alliance with Massachusetts General Hospital.
- The $525 million in new funding is a particularly rich Series C financing, and follows two earlier venture rounds that raised a combined $320 million.
Billions of dollars are flooding into cell and gene therapy via public company acquisitions, initial public offerings and venture financing. Elevate is a good example, having raised just shy of $850 million since launching in May 2019.
The company, originally launched by an investor group led by MPM Capital and F2 Ventures, is taking an unusual approach to capitalizing on interest in the field. Rather than just developing its own pipeline of experimental medicines, Elevate has built a portfolio of scientific tools and manufacturing capabilities that it's marketing to would-be partners as a way to accelerate their work.
"Cell and gene therapy is so vast and there are so many obstacles," said company CEO David Hallal, who formerly ran Alexion before leaving in the wake of a sales and marketing scandal. "There are more opportunities than any one company can move forward."
Dubbed BaseCamp, Elevate's technology platform includes research and process development support, as well as access to manufacturing facilities currently housed at a site in Waltham, Massachusetts. There, Elevate can produce cell therapies as well as the viral delivery tools that underpin many of the current crop of gene therapies in development.
Partner companies Allovir and HighPassBio use BaseCamp, as does Mass General for programs developed by its own researchers. Formerly ViraCyte, Allovir was founded at Baylor College of Medicine’s Center for Cell and Gene Therapy, while HighPassBio was launched out of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
LifeEDIT, the third of Elevate's current portfolio companies, was built around gene editing technology developed by agricultural company AgBiome.
The fresh funding for Elevate will go, in part, to adding new manufacturing capabilities as well as advancing the gene editing, gene therapy and pluripotent stem cell technologies Elevate has built up to date.
"We are in the early days of the cell and gene therapy revolution," said Hallal. "We're living with first-generation technology that's advancing the discipline forward."
Joining Elevate's existing group of backers are two high-powered investors: SoftBank, through its Vision Fund 2, and Fidelity Management & Research Company.
Softbank, which gained widespread notoriety for its high-dollar bets on new technology companies via its original Vision Fund, is said to be planning billions of dollars of investments in biotech companies. The Japanese company has, through various entities, invested in Roivant Sciences, AbCellera Biologics, 4D Molecular Therapeutics and Pacific Biosciences.
Elevate isn't the only biotech company raising sizable late-stage venture funds. On Monday, Insitro, a drug discovery company built around the promise of machine learning, announced it had raised a $400 million Series C round.