- Venture funding for U.K. biotechs hit a new record in 2015, according to the UK Bioindustry Association. The sector raised 489 million pounds ($698 million) in the private venture capital market.
- The BIA attributes the robust funding to several factors, including solid follow-on funding, venture capital activity, the strength of the R&D pipeline.
- Despite the strength in funding, the number of deals fell to 15, the lowest since 2010. And over 40% of the venture dollars raised were from Immunocore's roughly $290 million financing.
The BIA hopes U.K.'s biotech sector can become "the third global biotech cluster" in the world, after Cambridge and San Francisco. The U.K. already is leading the biotech industry in Europe, but still has a ways to go to come close to markets in the U.S.
Last year, one-third of all venture capital funds raised were in the U.K. and British companies accounted for 27% of all money raised from European biotechnology company IPOs in 2015, according to the BIA.
Although there were fewer rounds of VC funding in 2015 compared with last year, they were substantially larger. This was bolstered by a four-fold increase in the amount of follow-on funding that was available to established companies last year. The results of the UK's strong funding environment are evident in the collective pipeline, which has 585 products in development, including many in phase 2 and phase 3.
Despite this rosy picture, the approaching British referendum to leave the European Union, scheduled for next week, is casting a shadow over the industry. Last month, 93 signatories, including the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), came out against Brexit, citing the negative effect it will have on the life sciences industry and UK-based patients.
According to those opposed to Brexit in the life sciences industry, negative consequences would range from a more complex drug-approval process to less R&D funding and fewer biopharma jobs in the UK. A vote to leave would likely result in a less upbeat BIA funding report next year.