British Business Bank commits £50m into new UK life science fund

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British Business Bank

Epidarex Capital, a transatlantic life science venture firm, announces that Epidarex Capital III UK LP has raised £102.1m (the fund).

The fund will build new life science companies based on world-class research and innovation from emerging hubs across the UK, including spinouts from highly regarded universities. Typical initial investments will range from £2m to £5m.

The new Fund has been cornerstoned by the British Business Bank via a £50m commitment from its Enterprise Capital Funds (ECF) programme for early stage venture capital. The programme combines private and public money to enable equity investments in high-growth businesses, and since its inception it has committed over £1.36bn (including third-party investment) to facilitate finance to 540 smaller UK high growth businesses.

The Bank’s investment in Epidarex Capital III UK makes it the largest ECF to date, and the first to specialise in life science.

In addition to the British Business Bank, the Universities of Edinburgh, Manchester, Glasgow and Aberdeen, alongside Strathclyde Pension Fund and several global investors have committed capital to the new Fund.

With its UK headquarters in Edinburgh and its US base in Bethesda, Maryland, Epidarex is a transatlantic venture firm that creates and invests in early stage, high-potential life science companies in emerging research hubs. Epidarex partners at an early stage with top scientists and entrepreneurs in the UK and the US to develop highly innovative products addressing major unmet needs in the global healthcare market.

Sinclair Dunlop, Managing Partner at Epidarex, said: “We are grateful for the tremendous support from the British Business Bank and from returning investors, which has allowed us to close this significant new UK fund. Epidarex’s differentiated approach to life science investing draws from our global network of experts and long-standing relationships with multiple highly regarded universities and research institutions. Epidarex can now significantly expand and support its portfolio of UK life science start-ups with the potential to both transform patient outcomes and generate competitive investor returns.”

The Fund’s first investment founded Lunac Therapeutics, a spinout from the University of Leeds, which received £2.65m in a Series A financing round. Lunac is developing next-generation anticoagulants to minimise bleeding risk and capitalises on a decade of academic research, which was supported by the University.

The Fund expects to announce several further investments in the coming months.

Ken Cooper, Managing Director, Venture Capital Solutions at the British Business Bank, said: “We know that equity finance is crucial for innovative life science and health technology businesses. The Bank’s Enterprise Capital Funds programme is a key tool in helping to develop and maintain an effective venture capital provision in the UK. By supporting Epidarex Capital III UK, we are looking to ensure the successful financing of early stage, high-potential businesses that are built upon cutting-edge UK life science research. We are very pleased to be backing this new UK fund, which itself represents an important milestone as our largest ECF fund to date and the first dedicated to investment in life science.”

Industry reaction

Minister for Business and Industry, Nadhim Zahawi said: “It is our ambition to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business, and that means backing innovation as we rebuild and revitalise the UK economy.

“The UK is already home to one of the strongest, most productive health and life science industries globally and today’s £50m government investment will help to ensure this crucial sector continues to thrive, transforming people’s lives.”

Steve Bates, OBE, Chief Executive Officer of the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA), said: “Accessing world class life science venture expertise is key to creating and scaling successful innovative UK life science companies. This has been a BIA policy objective for many years, so it’s fantastic to see UK life science industrial strategy in action – further enabling Epidarex to back some of Britain’s most promising life science entrepreneurs. Having transatlantic expertise and a base in Edinburgh, gives Epidarex real insight in building new UK life science companies, including beyond the South East of England – an area that has traditionally been under ventured despite the presence of world-leading research and innovation.”

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