Europe’s first dedicated life sciences crowdfunding platform opens to UK investors


20-09-2017

Investing in the UK’s innovative life sciences and biotech sector just became more accessible to a wide spectrum of investors, with Capital Cell, Europe’s first dedicated Life Sciences crowdfunding platform. Today Capital Cell has formally ‘opened to investors’ with the first four investment opportunities now live on the platform.

These opportunities include a company developing alternatives to antibiotics and an equine health company.

Capital Cell works with companies whose technology is based on biology or healthcare to secure the investment they need to progress their innovative, potentially life-changing ideas. Capital Cell’s model is to support early stage companies, with seed stage investment up to £1 million sought through the platform.

Founded in Spain in 2014, Capital Cell is already building a track-record in raising investment to progress promising medical inventions and secure a return to investors. This expansion into the UK market sees Capital Cell establish a presence in the leading biotech market in Europe. The Company is backed in its expansion by a number of leading UK life sciences innovators and investors, including: Dr Harren Jhoti, founder and CEO of Astex Pharmaceuticals; the life sciences angel investor David Ford; Adrian Parton, MBE, of Boundary Capital and serial life sciences entrepreneurs Sunil and Prashant Shah of O2h Ventures. Dr Ian Tomlinson – founder of Domantis, sold to GSK and now supporting a number of innovative life sciences companies as Chairman and board member, including Stevenage BioScience Catalyst and Apollo Therapeutics – is also an investor and has been appointed as Chairman of the Board.

Commenting on the launch of Capital Cell and its potential, Dr Ian Tomlinson said: "Having spent my career in life sciences, the opportunity to become a part of the next wave of funding for the sector is very exciting. UK innovation is amongst the best in the world: with the support Capital Cell seeks to provide for early stage companies, start-ups and spin-outs can look to the future with confidence. Capital Cell, and crowdfunding more generally, provides an answer to a funding gap which has been becoming more obvious for some time. Following its successful start to life in Spain, Capital Cell is well set for success in the UK."

The launch of Capital Cell comes at a time when the UK has recognised the substantial strengths and opportunities in its £64 billion life sciences sector – the industry launched an independent sector-led Life Sciences Industrial Strategy Review at the end of August, which will inform the basis of UK Government work with the sector towards a sector deal in the coming months.

Funding for early stage projects is crucial to support the next generation of therapies, devices, and treatments, but with public market money turning to ever later stage companies, sources of funding to progress early stage innovations can be limited. This shortage will be exacerbated for UK companies by the loss of access to the European Investment Fund (EIF), as a result of Brexit.  The need for capital investment into life sciences companies – both early stage and longer term, is the subject of the Treasury’s Patient Capital Review, which is open to consultation until 22 September. Patient capital supports small firms to grow into large, world-leading businesses.

Crowdfunding has become an increasingly important means of financing early stage companies in recent years. Between 2014 and 2015, equity crowdfunding increased by 295% in the UK. In 2015, $150 billion was generated globally through crowdfunding. VC funding, for so long the backbone of early stage investment, is expected to be overtaken by crowdfunding in Europe by 2020.

Capital Cell has a unique evaluation model. Companies looking to raise investment through the platform are analysed in-house and through its BioExpert Network. These BioExperts are PhD level scientists, IP lawyers, investment consultants and industry professionals. In return for their opinion on companies, the BioExperts receive tokens to invest into a company of their choice. Companies must also secure a lead investor as part of the process.

“Investing in private life sciences companies has traditionally only been available to highly sophisticated investors with significant technical expertise and large sums to invest. Whilst investing in early stage companies will always involve significant risks, Capital Cell’s unique screening process and new investment platform opens up opportunities to everyone. If the companies are successful in achieving their goals the financial rewards for investors can be significant and the social impact can affect the lives of millions” said Dr Laura Ferguson, UK Director. Dr Ferguson has been appointed to drive Capital Cell’s UK expansion.

With its UK headquarters in Cambridge, Capital Cell is based in proximity to 33% of the UK’s biotech companies, 10% of the entire total in Europe. Its remit however is to support innovation from across the UK ecosystem. The company views the distribution of capital out of the ‘Golden Triangle’ as one of the key contributions it can make to the early-stage funding landscape for life sciences in the UK.


About Capital Cell
Capital Cell was founded by Daniel Oliver, CEO, and has been trading in Barcelona, Spain for two years. Following investment into Capital Cell of more than €500,000, including UK and Spanish business angels as well as “crowd” investment from its own €300,000 crowdfunding campaign closed in March 2017, the company has launched in the UK. Daniel Oliver remains in majority control of the company, with the UK launch being led alongside Dr Laura Ferguson, UK Director. Dr Ian Tomlinson, UK Chairman, was the co-Founder of Domantis Ltd which was acquired by GSK for $454 million in 2006. He is Chairman of the Stevenage BioScience Catalyst and Apollo Therapeutics.

Since its launch in Spain in 2014, Capital Cell has raised £3.77 million for early stage companies, completing 14 successful campaigns. Investors have already begun to see returns, with investors in ZeClinics receiving back twice their original investments made.

The first company to be live for investment in the UK is:

  • Absynth Biologics - Cheshire UK - pioneering innovative alternatives to antibiotics, in particular vaccines for S. Aureus (MRSA) and C. Difficile - targeting £650,000. The company is backed by Alderly Park and O2h Ventures, and the CEO, Fiona Marston is an Innovate UK Women in Innovations finalist as well as holding a number of Innovate UK grant awards.

Three more companies are live in ‘Discover’ phase:

  • Tharos – Hertfordshire, UK - a patent-rich equine health company focused on optimizing digestion, gut health and the microbiome: developing veterinary supplements and medicines - targeting £1.2
  • Ovusense – Warwick UK - fertility monitoring for 24hr advance ovulation prediction with 99% accurate detection of exact date -  targeting £200,000
  • Antikor -  Stevenage, UK - next-generation antibody fragment drug conjugates - targeting £500,000
  • And a surgical robot will be live on the platform within the next three weeks.

Investments in early stage life science companies involves significant risks including loss of capital, illiquidity, lack of dividends and dilution as well as potential rewards.

Please see https://capitalcell.co.uk/ for more information.

 

Capital Cell is Europe’s first equity crowdfunding platform specialised in life science.

Capital Cell