Six new investments, portfolio progress and an expanding investment team

Date
January 25, 2024
Location
London

LONDON, UK, 25 January 2024 — LifeArc Ventures, which is committed to investing in innovative early-stage life science companies, today provides an update on its portfolio.

Clare Terlouw, Head of LifeArc Ventures, said: “Our portfolio of investments expanded during the year and despite challenging financing conditions in the sector we were pleased to invest in six new companies and to continue to support our existing portfolio companies as they grow. As part of LifeArc, we can provide our companies with additional scientific support and we are excited to continue to invest in exceptional early stage opportunities.”

LifeArc Ventures’ portfolio grew in 2023, as we invested in five companies and co-founded one new company across the therapeutics and healthtech space. We also participated in several follow-on rounds across our portfolio.

We have expanded our investment team, adding two new members and further strengthened our Early Ventures Investment Committee through the appointment of a new Chair and new independent member. We are delighted to continue to benefit from their experience and advice in both biotech and healthtech investing.

We are proud to be part of LifeArc, which provides us unique access to scientific dry and wet labs and a talent pool of internal scientists that helps inform our decision making and enables us to provide hands-on support to our portfolio companies. By delivering on our aim to generate financial returns by investing in innovative early-stage life science companies, we are also helping to sustain LifeArc as a leading UK medical research charity.

Accelerating investment in innovative science

We’ve added six new investments in 2023:

We led the $16m Series A financing for Cambridge-based Maxion Therapeutics in February, investing alongside Monograph Capital and BGF to support the development of novel biologics targeting ion channels and G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) via Maxion’s KnotBody® platform. Ion channels and GPCRs are critical cell surface proteins involved in a wide range of previously untreatable diseases, including autoimmune conditions and chronic pain.

In July, we participated in the $16m Series A for US-based Affect Therapeutics, alongside Artis Ventures, AlleyCorp, CityLight, Samsung Next and What If Ventures. Affect delivers purpose-built treatments for specific substance use disorders, including alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine, as well as prescription stimulants such as ADHD medications.

In August, another exciting project came to fruition when Ozlo Sleep emerged from stealth with a team led by ex-Bose management unveiled its flagship Ozlo Sleepbuds® – the first in an ecosystem of sleep solutions using sophisticated technology and sound to unlock restorative sleep.

We are looking forward to telling you more about three of them – in therapeutic areas of high interest including oncology and rare diseases and a new UK based company focusing on Huntington’s Disease – during 2024.

We have ambitious investment plans so please continue to contact us with exciting investment opportunities. You can get in touch directly on ventures@lifearc.org, and keep up with our news and activities by following us @LifeArcVentures and LinkedIn.

Substantive portfolio progress

Three of our companies – AviadoBio, Cumulus Neuroscience and Maxion Therapeutics – were selected for PwC UK’s Life Sciences Future 50 report in October – great examples of exceptional scientific innovation in the UK and the strength and breadth of our portfolio.

AviadoBio had a productive year, initiating its phase 1/2 ASPIRE-FTD clinical trial to evaluate its lead product AVB-101 in people with Frontotemporal Dementia with progranulin mutations in October, quickly followed by FDA IND clearance and Fast Track Designation.

Following on from its successful Series A, Maxion was awarded £2 million in Innovate UK funding and appointed industry veteran Eva Lotta-Allan as Chair.

RQ Bio, a company we co-founded and co-funded in 2022, announced its monoclonal antibody aiming to prevent COVID-19 in vulnerable patients had entered clinical trials less than 12 months after discovery. AstraZeneca’s phase I/III study will evaluate the safety, efficacy and neutralizing activity of AZD3152 compared with comparator for pre-exposure prophylaxis of COVID-19. AstraZeneca licenced AZD3152 from RQ Bio in May 2022. Separately, RQ Bio and US company AbCellera entered a strategic collaboration to identify clinical candidates for up to three infectious disease targets including influenza and cytomegalovirus (CMV).

Closed Loop Medicine entered a global co-development partnership with Pharmanovia, initially focused on developing and launching a drug + software combination version of a first-line anti-hypertensive in the UK. A phased global roll-out and development of additional therapies are planned.

Expanding our investment team and IC

The Early Ventures Investment Committee was significantly strengthened by the appointment of Deborah Harland as Chair. Debbie has an exceptional track record of achievement in the life sciences sector, including as a highly respected partner and venture partner with transatlantic venture capital firm SR One and an established board director at a number of venture backed companies. We were also pleased to welcome US-based David Van Sickle, who has over 15 years of experience developing and commercializing digital health technologies and was co-founder and CEO of Propeller Health, a digital health and therapeutics company dedicated to improving the management of asthma and COPD.

Jon Nash has been appointed as an Investment Principal in the Ventures team. Jon joined us from M Ventures’ biotechnology investment team and previously was an associate within the healthcare investment banking team at UBS, after starting his career as a doctor. Matthew Lulham-Robinson joined us as an Investment Associate, from L.E.K. Consulting’s Life Science practice.

In addition, Clare Terlouw, Head of LifeArc Ventures, was re-elected to the BioIndustry Association (BIA) Board of Directors for the third time.

Notes to Editors

LifeArc is a self-funded medical research charity with more than 25 years of translating early science into health care treatment including a diagnostic for antibiotic resistance and four licensed medicines. Our model is built on collaboration, and through our LifeArc Ventures team, we invest in Seed and Series A stage companies with significant follow-on investment reserved for successful portfolio companies. Our ventures approach focuses on investing in novel translational science and technology with a dual goal of generating financial returns to the charity and positive impact for patients.

Find out more on www.lifearc.org or follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter (@LifeArcVentures).