The North West Fund for Biomedical is managed by early-stage venture capital firm SPARK Impact and is a new investor in Evgen following the financing. The amount secured has not been disclosed.
EV Group, an investor in Evgen since its inception, also participated in the financing through its Rising Stars Growth Fund, with a number of private individuals also contributing. A second closing is expected later in the year to meet the demand for the subscription, according to a statement from Evgen.
Serial entrepreneur Dr Stephen Franklin founded Evgen in 2008. The business is dedicated to commercialising the clinical potential of sulforaphane, and related compounds, which is a molecule of botanical origin that can be produced from eating cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli.
Evgen, which will move to Merseyside following the investment, will use the funds to complete the pre-clinical development of a sulforaphane-based drug that the company claims has the potential to prevent and treat prostate cancer and other cancers. Evgen holds the intellectual property rights to a composition of a synthetic sulforaphane encapsulated within a sugar structure called an alphacylodextrin. The drug, called Sulforadex, extends the shelf life of sulforaphane from hours to years, making pharmaceutical applications viable for the first time.
Franklin, chief executive of Evgen, comments, ‘We intend to initially target men with indolent prostate cancer. However, Sulforadex has much wider potential in the treatment of more advanced cancers, most likely in combination therapies with existing treatment regimes. A number of other clinical applications will be pursued in due course.’
The North West Fund for Biomedical is a £25 million sub-fund of the £185 million evergreen The North West Fund that is financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the European Investment Bank.
Dr Penny Attridge, senior investment director at SPARK Impact and manager of The North West Fund for Biomedical, adds, ‘Evgen is a particularly exciting investment proposition due to the fact that it is a drug development opportunity that targets an enormous clinical need but with a significantly lower development risk. This is the first substantial investment from the North West Fund for Biomedical and we expect to announce other deals of a similar scale in the near future.’