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The Big Ones
Delighted the May issue of GCV is now out covering the media sector, a special report on AI, Israel as the innovative region, extracts from Global University Venturing and Global Impact Venturing sister titles and all the monthly data from GCV Analytics.
From the editorial:
The innovation ecosystem we find ourselves in arguably has its roots with Charles Babbage, a University of Cambridge mathematician, perhaps best-known as the inventor of computers.
His work, however, also led to the creation of the Penny Post, where (eventually) a letter could be sent anywhere in the British Empire for one penny.
The Penny Post, therefore, predates Metcalfe’s Law, which postulates the value of a network is proportional to the square of the number of users it connects.
Joseph Schumpeter’s ideas of creative destruction had innovation at its core. Ideas rather than accumulation of capital drive long-term growth. Advances in one area lead to more ideas across multiple industries.
Bring both Metcalfe and Schumpeter’s ideas together thanks to a boom in internet connectivity and computing power along with abundant, almost limitless, capital and the potential to tackle almost any challenge beckons.
Next month’s issue targets the healthcare sector.
The covid-19 pandemic has been regarded as the long-awaited start of the “biological century”. The rapid response to developing vaccines to the disease and the use of novel methods, such as messenger RNA, to do so has created optimism the same speed and execution is possible for a host of other viruses and more broadly to effectively create the longevity escape velocity – where people’s life expectancy increases by more than a year for each year they live.
But research and startups is just part of the challenge in a geopolitical world with concern about sovereignty of supply and requirements for manufacturing bases as well as requirements to carry our large-scale trials.
The UK plans to build on the recovery trial, which uncovered two treatments for covid-19, by streamlining research and embedding it in the health service and through fast regulation.
UK-based venture capital firm Abingworth this month raised $582m for its second clinical co-development fund.
Abingworth has previously invested through its co-development portfolio companies, Avillion and SFJ Pharmaceuticals, which both finance and facilitate clinical trials, taking on all of the clinical and regulatory risk in return for a pre-agreed return if the drug is approved.
When Abingworth first got into clinical co-development back in 2009, it primarily worked with pharma companies who only paid out if the project was successful, by which time the cost of the deal could be amortized over the sales of the product.
The market has since expanded to cover biotechs, which want to reduce the dilutive impact if they had to go out and raise the money on the public market. And there are plenty more of them.
The Financial Times noted Magdalen College was selling a 40% stake in the Oxford Science Park “after a surge of investor interest in the fast-growing life sciences sector increased the site’s value almost seven-fold in five years”.
As sole owner of the park since 2016, Magdalen has invested in new labs and research space on the site and gained planning consent for a new 165,000 square foot development to support its more than 100 businesses based there, including Vaccitech, which raised $111m from an initial public offering on the Nasdaq stock exchange in April.
Last year British firms raised £1.4bn ($2bn) of venture capital, the Economist said, which was more than anywhere else in Europe but less than the American hubs, Massachusetts (£4.7bn) and San Francisco (£4.5bn).
But the parallels between the UK and US are growing.
A few years ago, Seth Harrison, an American venture capitalist at Apple Tree Partners, was looking to open an office in Europe. The choice came down to Britain or Switzerland, he told the Economist. “I got quite acquainted with the whole UK biotech scene.
“The fantastic research ferment that occurs in the Golden Triangle. You know, the London, Cambridge, Oxford area… And I just said: ‘Wow, this reminds me of Cambridge, Massachusetts, 25 years ago.’”
To learn more about the golden triangle, our sister publication will start its review of the three university-led ecosystems, starting with Imperial College, London, in July before discussion and interaction at the GCV Symposium in November.
Medical devices and diagnostics has often been regarded as the underloved part of the healthcare venture market compared with biotech and pharma, with relatively few deals and limited exit options.
This has changed. Last year’s near-doubling in corporate venturing deal values to more than $5bn has continued this year. Most recently, this week Germany-based Smart4Diagnostics
(S4DX) raised €5m ($6m) in its series A round, including local medical technology manufacturer Sarstedt and the EIC Fund, established in 2020 by the European Commission for direct equity investment in breakthrough technologies.
The startup has developed the “digital human blood sample fingerprint”, a data-picture of all quality aspects for human blood samples from collection to arrival in the lab.
As Hans Maria Heyn, CEO and co-founder of S4DX, said: “As many as three in four medical decisions are based on diagnostic results – often blood samples. Currently, this process is being managed manually which can lead to errors and can cause many issues including slow diagnosis, repeated tests on the patient, and wasted resources.”
The covid-19 disease has focused more attention on diagnosis and whether treatment can be done remotely from hospitals. But the take-off in attention to medical devices and dianostics started beforehand with the flotation then purchase of Merck-backed Livongo, a digital diabetes management platform, which had its initial public offering in 2019 and was acquired by Teladoc for $18.5bn last year.
Livongo had been incubated by venture capital firm 7wireVentures, which has just closed its second venture fund at $150m with limited partners including health plans Florida Blue and Cigna, hospitals and health systems Atlantic Health, Wellforce, Rush University Medical Center, Memorial Hermann Health System and Spectrum Health and large employers Boeing, according to Fierce Biotech.
Similarly, E-merge Capital Partners is raising its debut fund focused on early-stage medical device companies and technologies coming out the Evolve MedTech Venture Studio.
The fund, led by managing partners Brad Klos and John Xitco, is focused primarily on class II medical devices in cardiovascular and orthopedics.
Others are also trying to use strategic ties to add value. Private equity firm Revival Healthcare Capital has closed its second fund at $500m. Revival said it would invest where a corporate strategic partner will have a structural option or right to acquire the company in the future.
Rick Anderson, chairman and managing director at Revival, said: “Consolidation has made it increasingly difficult for medtech leaders to move the needle on growth.”
Lauren Forshey, Revival president and another MD, added: “By removing the guess work and gamesmanship that often defines the relationship and instead aligning goals at the outset, target companies benefit from increased focus, speed, and capital efficiency in driving towards milestones they know they will get rewarded for.”
And the goal remains to gain scale. Venture-backed digital health company Ro has agreed to acquire Modern Fertility, a US-based provider of at-home fertility tests for women, for a reported at least $225m according to Fierce Biotech.
Ro started out four years ago selling erectile dysfunction medication and hair loss supplements to men but after raising $876m has been acquiring other startups, including Workpath to move into the home-based healthcare market.
The next Global Healthcare Council quarterly report published next month will cover the transformation of hospitals with remote care and diagnostics – insights and feedback welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back in the day, money laundering used to be a relatively simple affair. Take a bag of cash to a casino, “lose” 10% to 20% and walk away with the bulk in cleaned money.
Digitalisation and global capital flows has made the scale bigger – now the laundering is more likely to be by swapping a so-called cold wallet of bitcoin or other cyptocurrency on a USB flash drive – but this also creates opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Investment bank Goldman Sachs has just invested $20m in British anti-money laundering (AML) company ComplyAdvantage.
Charlie Delingpole, founder and chief executive of ComplyAdvantage, told the Financial Times he was optimistic that it would be a precursor to a deeper partnership with the Wall Street bank. “It was more about the partnership and the brand and what they can give us as a firm than the money per se, given we are very well capitalised as it stands.”
There is more attention on finance as the sector reaps the unprecedented growth in money supply as treasuries grapple with the economic impact of the covid-19 disease.
But as Vinay Solanki, head of Channel 4 Ventures, referenced in last night’s GCV Analytics webinar on the media sector, effectively all consumer-facing businesses can create opportunities to become financial service providers – even if they are not all going to be as successful as China-based gaming group Tencent, whose first quarter results saw ballooning revenues and the fair value of its investments in listed companies at Rmb1.4tn at the end of March, up from Rmb410bn at the same time last year.
This transformation can be done through bolting on the right payment apps, such as Stripe, but it also means the need to know your customer for AML and anti-fraud purposes will become more vital.
This could in turn put pressure on the incumbent financial services corporations to take a leaf out of Goldman Sachs and CVC progenitor, Fidelity, and engage more whole-heartedly in backing startups.
We are delighted, therefore, to be setting up the Global Financial Council, to be chaired by Jacqueline LeSage Krause, founder and managing general partner of Munich Re Ventures, a multi-fund corporate venture capital investing platform for Munich Re Group, the world’s largest reinsurance company that effectively can touch all parts of finance and business.
Do reach out to join the wider group and your insights.
The merger of corporate venture-backed Gojek and Tokopedia, Indonesia’s two biggest startups, has focused attention on the global success story happening in southeast Asia.
The merged company, to be called GoTo, will create a food delivery, ride-hailing and ecommerce group preparing for a $40bn public listing in Indonesia and potentially in the US this year, sources told the Financial Times.
SoftBank and Tencent are respective investors in Tokopedia and Gojek, which has also raised $300m from Telkomsel earlier this month.
The merger announcement came weeks after Singapore-headquartered Grab, which offers delivery, ride-hailing and financial services, announced a record $40bn merger with a special purpose acquisition company (Spac), while the Tencent-backed Sea Group, the parent company of Shopee and gaming unit Garena, set up a $1bn corporate venturing unit in March.
GoTo counts more than 100m monthly active users on its platforms and a total group gross transaction value of more than $22bn in 2020, according to the FT.
But already the region’s leaders are planning the next series of disruptive startups to emerge.
This month, the Economic Development Board (EDB) of Singapore, a government agency helping investors in the island state, started a pilot program, the Corporate Venture Launchpad, to support large and established companies to venture into new areas of growth beyond their core business. EDB has allocated S$10m ($7.5m) in funding for the one-year program which has partnered with four venture studios:
- BCG Digital Ventures,
- Leap by McKinsey, and
Singapore already has about 40 venture studios for corporations, such as Procter & Gamble, Bosch and Schneider Electric. Participating corporates through the Launchpad can receive 50% co-funding for qualifying costs, such as for manpower and other fees (capped at $377,000) and potential follow-on co-investment support by EDB New Ventures.
Beta lines up $368m
Back Market sells investors on $335m series D
Pine Labs picks investors for $285m
Extend grows its funding by $260m
Investors pump $250m into Pipe
Figure fits $200m into series D
Factory14 opens with $200m
Good Meat dishes up $170m round
Formlabs fashions $150m series E
Sunbit shines in $130m series D
Loom looks to investors for $130m
Hummingbird takes off with $125m series C
Asapp picks up $120m series C
Numab nabs Novo in $110m series C
Goldbelly fills up on funding
DST drives to $100m series C
Vedere Bio II sees light in $77m series A
ThinkCyte contemplates $26m in funding
Axelspace accelerates to series C
UTEC hits first close for fifth fund
One Capital 1 hits $147m close
Ulu ushers in $138m for Fund III
White Star closes $50m fund
7wireVentures sources corporate for fund close
Pi Labs lands Embassy Group commitment
“Funky Chunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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