The Cambridge UK science, technology and business hotspot will see dealflow shoot past $90 billion for the last 34 months as transactions ramp up in February, according to Business Weekly’s Cambridge Deals Digest.
The landmark was set up by a healthy January transaction count of more than $1.69bn – that doesn’t include a flurry of New Year deals for which values were not disclosed. January’s haul took the Cambridge Deals Digest total to $88.7bn for the last 34 months – a monthly average of $2.61bn.
Transactions in the first month of 2016 were well up on December as business got back up to the table following weeks of cold turkey. Feedback from local dealmakers and investors suggests that the cluster is set for a Valentine’s week love in during February.
Life sciences and property & construction were the major drivers of fundraisings and contract wins in January; added to the physical transaction total was the promise from a number of significant businesses locally that they had built substantial war chests for 2016 acquisitions.
The AIM-quoted Marshall Motor Holdings, for example, has earmarked a potential $142 million for further acquisitions. The local biotech scene did not so much ring in the New Year as greet it with a resounding carillon. The growing kudos of the Cambridge life science cluster was handsomely demonstrated by the decision of Woodford Patient Capital Trust to back a $45 million.
Series A round for Inivata whose technology is based on trailblazing research from the Rosenfeld Lab at Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute (CRUK-CI). Existing investors Imperial Innovations, Cambridge Innovation Capital and Johnson & Johnson Innovation all participated in the round along with newcomer Woodford.
Inivata is a clinical cancer genomics company employing the precision of circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) analysis to improve personalised healthcare in oncology. The new funds will be used to accelerate clinical studies to validate Inivata’s technology platform based on enhanced TAm-Seq, and commercialise the company’s first products.
Inivata’s platform will initially be applied across a spectrum of solid tumours – including lung, breast and colon cancer – to demonstrate the integration of genomic information with clinically actionable decision-making, defining a personalised approach to cancer care.
Inivata CEO Michael Stocum (pictured above) said: “Since our seed funding 16 months ago, the market has seen an explosion of interest and funding in liquid biopsy research. “With our early presence in Cambridge UK and our imminent presence in the US, we are well-placed to be forerunners in the practical application of liquid biopsy for clinical oncologists.”
More good news swiftly followed as a new funding model designed to translate more university research into novel medicines at a faster rate and with greater commercial potential was launched by a global academia-Big Pharma consortium believed to be the first of its kind.
World-leading UK universities, including Cambridge, and global pharmaceutical companies kicked off the initiative with the $57m Apollo Therapeutics Fund. Cambridge medical technology pioneer AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson Innovation and the technology transfer offices of Imperial College London, UCL (University College London) and the University of Cambridge, created the joint venture which is targeting a broad range of diseases.
Each of the three industry partner companies will contribute £10m to the venture over six years. The technology transfer offices of the three university partners – Imperial Innovations, Cambridge Enterprise and UCL Business PLC – will each contribute a further £3.3 million. The aim of Apollo is to advance academic preclinical research from these universities to a stage at which it can either be taken forward by one of the industry partners following an internal bidding process or be out-licensed. The three industry partners will also provide R & D expertise and additional resources to assist with the commercial evaluation and development of projects.
The standout deal in the industry sector was the news that Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group would share a $526m MoD contract to upgrade the RAF C-130 Hercules transport aircraft.
2016 marks the 50th anniversary of Marshall’s first engagement with the C-130. Its ‘neighbours of Hercules’ are Lockheed Martin and Rolls-Royce, who jointly deliver the Hercules Integrated Operational Support (HIOS) programme. Most of the work under the new deal will be undertaken by Marshall ADG at its Cambridge site.
The MoD is also raising around $713m through the sale of RAF Mildenhall and other local and UK air base sites. In local property deals, Kier and Wates racked up significant contracts worth more than $150m, Wates with a blockbusting $107m windfall for a key phase of the university’s North West Cambridge site.
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