Venture capital biotech funding increases 35% year on year

Venture capital channels over £2m a day into biotech, accounting for two thirds of all biotech funding

Venture capital funding for UK biotechnology has increased by 35 per cent year on year to £182 million in the first quarter of 2019.

This compares with £135 million in Q1 2018.

VCs are now channelling £2 million into the sector, up from £1.5 million last year.

Venture capital is now contributing two thirds of funding flowing into UK biotechnology, up from 34 per cent a year ago, according to the UK Bioindustry Association (BiA).

The UK biotech sector now receives 24p of every pound of VC biotech investment across Europe between December 2018 and February 2019.

Jeremy Curnock Cook, managing director of healthcare investment firm BioScience Managers, said: “The rising proportion of VC funding points to the impact that technological innovation is having on the sector. This is giving rise to a growing cohort of new companies applying new technologies to develop novel solutions in areas such as drug discovery and development, diagnostics, digital health and genomics.

“These figures demonstrate the continued attraction of biotech as investors seek exposure to the growing global healthcare sector, driven by ageing populations, advances in medical treatments and an increase in chronic conditions.”

The number of UK biotechnology companies has boomed over the past three years, increasing by 65 per cent since 2016.

There are currently 3,456 companies in Britain involved in biotech research and development, compared with 2,095 three years ago.

On average, three new biotech companies are being incorporated each day, according to biotech venture capitalist Downing Ventures.

Almost two fifths of the UK’s biotech R&D companies only came into existence within the last three years.

Annual investment in UK biotech hit £2.2 billion in 2018, according to the BiA and Informa Pharma Intelligence. This was 85 per cent up on the year before.

Curnock Cook, whose BioScience Managers advises Downing FOUR VCT Healthcare added: “The challenge for private investors is how they can get on board, with the majority of VC funds based on institutional capital and a real lack of investment options available to individuals seeking access to fast growth UK healthcare companies.”

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