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The Big Ones
2020 has been a year when, for obvious reasons, innovative drug development has taken a leap forward. Tempus combines artificial intelligence and molecular data to come up with precision therapeutics, and has secured $200m in series G2 funding from investors including Novo and Google at an $8.1bn post-money valuation. That’s a 62% leap from its $100m Novo-backed series G round nine months ago.
University of Bristol is supporting a £15m ($20m) incubator and venture fund intended to anchor a deep tech epicentre in the west of England. Science Creates includes the Science Creates Ventures EIS Fund 1 that will focus on Bristol-based pre-seed and seed-stage deep tech startups in areas such as therapeutics, advanced materials, hardware and software. The incubator is an evolution of the existing University of Bristol-linked science innovation hubs Unit DX and Unit DY. It will connect resident companies to mentoring and strategic partnerships aligned with science and engineering-oriented objectives. Science Creates’ founding team includes Harry Destecroix, who previously co-founded University of Bristol-founded diabetes treatment developer Ziylo, acquired by pharmaceutical firm Novo Nordisk in 2018.
Food delivery app developer DoorDash has floated in one of the year’s largest tech IPOs, one that will net it almost $3.37bn at a valuation more than double that of the $16bn achieved in its June 2020 series H round. That jump has been described by some onlookers as insane, though it’s worth noting that few companies DoorDash’s size can boast of trebling revenue year on year while slashing their net loss by over 70%. It’s also a victory for DoorDash’s largest backer, SoftBank Vision Fund, which first invested at an $865m pre-money valuation.
Isar Aerospace, a Germany-based satellite technology launch services spinout of TU Munich, has raised €75m ($90.8m) of series B funding from investors including Unternehmertum Venture Capital (UVC) Partners, an affiliate of the university’s tech transfer arm UnternehmerTUM. The round also featured Airbus Ventures, among others. Founded in 2018, Isar is working on a two-stage launch vehicle designed to deploy satellites into low-earth orbit. Its rockets use light hydrocarbon and liquid oxygen-based fuel that has a lower environmental impact than common propellants. The company will use the funding for research, development and production activities ahead of its first commercial launches, which are planned for early 2022. UVC Partners and Airbus Ventures previously backed a $17m series A round for Isar in December 2019
Nuance Pharma has secured $181m in series D funding from investors including Konruns Pharma to advance its lead candidate, a small molecule anti-tumour drug, through early clinical trials. Nuance is also working on treatments for respiratory diseases, iron-deficiency anaemia and post-operative pain.
Brazil-based Conductor has bumped its latest round to $170m by raising a further $20m from Singaporean government-owned Temasek. It raised the first $150m last month in a first close led by Viking Global Investors, and Visa is also a backer, having invested in the banking and card issuing software provider two years ago.
Cityblock Health was spun off by Alphabet’s urban innovation subsidiary, Sidewalk Labs, three years ago and has already raised some $300m in funding, $160m coming in a series C round valuing it above $1bn. The round was led by venture firm General Catalyst and the company’s investors also include EmblemHealth and Echo Health Ventures.
In a year full of unpredictability and uncertainty, detailed information can make all the difference, so it’s no surprise risk intelligence provider FiscalNote has pulled in new funding, raising $160m in a debt and equity round featuring Renren and SoftBank in addition to The Economist Group, Jipyong and S&P Global Ventures. FiscalNote, which has more than 4,000 customers, is putting the money into strengthening its technology and growing its services.
Intel Capital helped Pico, a provider of IT systems and technology for financial market operators, complete a $135m series C round today that also featured CreditEase’s Fintech Investment Fund. Pico’s investors and clients include Wells Fargo, UBS, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Nomura, DRW Venture Capital, Chicago Trading Company, Capital Markets Trading and Simplex Investments.
Beijing Snowball Finance Information Technology provides cross-border data on financial markets as well as the means to invest in funds, bonds, trusts and cryptocurrency. It has just secured $120m in series E financing from private equity firm Orchid Asia, adding to over $170m in earlier funding from the likes of Ant Group and Renren.
The cybersecurity sector is increasingly moving towards the industrial space, as the internet of things makes large infrastructure more vulnerable to cyber attacks. Dragos is one of the companies offering an industry-focused cybersecurity product, and it has raised $110m in a series C round co-led by National Grid Partners and Koch Disruptive Technologies. The round also featured fellow corporate investors Schweitzer Engineering Labs, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures.
Airbnb has timed its flotation perfectly, raising $3.49bn at a price comfortably above its range. Alphabet-backed Airbnb has had a miserable year earnings wise due to worldwide social distancing measures, but investors will be betting on a big rebound in 2021 as covid-19 vaccinations begin to be distributed and governments start easing travel restrictions.
Uber has sunk some big money into its autonomous driving technology unit, Advanced Technologies Group, over the years, which was what led the corporate to spin it off last year with $1bn from Denso, Toyota and SoftBank Vision Fund. It has now agreed to merge Uber ATG with another self-driving technology developer, Aurora, through a deal that will involve it investing $400m in the company and taking a 26% stake in the merged business at a $10bn valuation. It’s a similar model to the one Uber has used to divest regional businesses in China, Southeast Asia and Russia.
Silverback Therapeutics has had a very successful IPO too. It floated a week ago, pricing an upsized offering above the range, and has since seen its share price shoot up over 50%. The underwriters have accordingly boosted the size of the IPO to almost $278m, adding to $211m in venture funding from investors including Celgene, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Alexandria Venture Investments.
China-based 17 Education & Technology Group has floated in the United States, in an initial public offering that raised nearly $288m. The company, which secured $250m nearly three years ago from investors including ByteDance, provides in-class learning software and after-class tutoring services. It priced the IPO at the mid-point of its range, and the offering came after 17EdTech nearly quadrupled its revenue year on year in the first nine months of 2020.
Fintech as a whole is having a moment right now, Affirm having agreed to pay $264m to acquire instalment payment service PayBright in a deal that will allow GoEasy to exit. Consumer finance provider GoEasy invested $25.5m in PayBright in September last year, which makes the transaction a relatively early exit.
“Funky Chunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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