Celebrating a bumper year for investment
2023 has been another stand-out year for investment in White City Innovation District businesses. Entrepreneurs and innovators across a variety of sectors have secured millions of pounds of funding, demonstrating the accelerating interest in businesses emerging from the District, and confirming their transformative potential. As this year draws to a close, we highlight some of the major investment deals closed by the WCID community over the past twelve months.
- Liberis (based at Scale Space), $112M funding, December 2023
Liberis, a leading global embedded finance platform with a mission to provide small businesses with accessible and responsible finance, this month announced that it has secured $112 million in debt financing from HSBC Innovation Banking and BCI Capital. These funds will support the fintech firm’s further growth in North America and Europe, and its expansion into new markets, including Canada, Poland and Germany.
- Valink Therapeutics (based at I-HUB), $7.8M funding, November 2023
Valink (formerly LiliumX), a biotech start-up focused on the development of next generation antibody-based therapeutics, confirmed in November that it has secured $7.8 million in investment to drive future innovation – with the seed round led by RV Invest and supporting investors including Hoxton Ventures, SynBioVen, Metaplanet, Acequia Capital, Magnet Ventures, Oxford Angel Fund and Y Combinator (W21). The business now plans to work closely with pharma partners and companies developing protein-based assets to drive the future of antibody-based cancer therapeutics through its modular, Universal Assembly Platform™, LiliumX™.
- Mytos (based at I-HUB), $19M funding, November 2023
Mytos, a biotech company co-founded by Imperial College London alumni Ali Afshar and Ignacio Willats, announced a $19 million Series A investment led by Buckley Ventures in November. The company specialises in automating the manufacture of human cell cultures and will use the funding to accelerate the manufacturing and distribution of Mytos’ automated cell production system to more biotech and pharma companies, to meet growing demand.
- SPARTA Biodiscovery (based at Scale Space), up to £3.5M funding, September 2023
In September, Imperial College London spin-out SPARTA Biodiscovery closed a multi-million-pound seed investment from industry partner Sartorius that will support the deployment of SPARTA’s nanoformulations for next-generation therapeutics in a range of commercial settings. Building on prototypes developed in Professor Molly Stevens’ group in Imperial’s Department of Materials, the company’s Single Particle Automated Raman Trapping Analysis (SPARTA®) platform can provide detailed physico-chemical analysis of nanoparticles at high throughput on a single-particle basis. The platform will help accelerate the design of nanoparticles before they progress to clinical trials and play a key role in manufacturing and quality control.
- Puraffinity (based at I-HUB), $13.9M funding, September 2023
Puraffinity, a company that develops precision technology for the removal of PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ across multiple water treatment applications, announced in September that it had successfully raised $13.9 million in Series A funding, led by Octopus Ventures. The start-up also confirmed that it had secured a £700,000 new Investor Partnership grant, focused on Net Zero-aligned companies, from Innovate UK. This financing will help the company scale up its operations and transition from being an R&D focussed-organisation to a full commercial entity. Puraffinity will invest in manufacturing, accelerate its commercial business as well strengthen its R&D capabilities to develop new products – supporting its mission to achieve the goal of providing PFAS-free water to one billion people by the year 2030.
- Quell Therapeutics (based at I-HUB), $85 million predominant cash payment and an equity investment from AstraZeneca, June 2023
Quell Therapeutics announced in June that it had signed a collaboration, exclusive option and license agreement with AstraZeneca to develop, manufacture and commercialise engineered T-regulatory (Treg) cell therapies targeted at two autoimmune diseases – Type 1 diabetes and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Under the agreement, Quell will receive $85 million upfront and is eligible to receive over $2 billion for further development and commercialisation milestones, if successful, plus tiered royalties.
- Pear Bio (based at I-HUB), $14M funding, May 2023
Pear Bio raised $14m in Series A funding in May, led by Octopus Ventures with participation from Hoxton Ventures, Crista Galli Ventures, SOSV, Fly Ventures and Compound Ventures. The fast-growth start-up is working on ground-breaking ways to improve the efficacy of cancer drug treatment – using a highly innovative computational biology platform that can track cancer progression and predict future drug response. The funding will enable the team to conduct clinical studies to predict patient response to approved treatments, while using the resulting lab and real-world clinical data to discover new therapies for cancer patients with high unmet needs.
- Polymateria (based at I-HUB), £20M funding, May 2023
Polymateria, the creators of a revolutionary biotransformation technology, secured £20 million in Series B funding in May. ABC Impact and Indorama Ventures led the funding round. Polymateria – which started life at Imperial’s White City Incubator – is using this investment to drive the global commercialisation of its technology that safely breaks down plastics when discharged into the environment.
- Complement Therapeutics (based at I-HUB), €72M funding, April 2023
Pioneering biotech company Complement Therapeutics secured €72 million in Series A financing led by Gimv, co-led by Forbion and joined by BioGeneration Ventures (BGV), Panakès Partners, Cambridge Innovation Capital (CIC), Hadean Ventures and Seroba Life Sciences. This key investment will help the company make significant strides in the treatment of Geograpic Atrophy (GA) secondary to dry age-related macular degeneration (dry-AMD) – a leading cause of blindness. The company is aiming to continue the development and complete a Phase Ib clinical proof of concept of its lead product CTx001, a highly innovative AAV gene therapy for the treatment of GA. Additionally, proceeds from this financing will be deployed to grow its laboratory-based activities in Stevenage, evaluate CTx’s pipeline assets for non-ocular indications, as well as further develop its novel Complement Precision Medicine (CPM) platform.
- Multus (based at I-HUB), £7.9M funding, January 2023
Cellular agriculture solution pioneer Multus secured a total of £7.9 million at the beginning of the year, through a Series A investment led by Mandi Ventures and including SynBioVen, SOSV (Indie Bio), Big Idea Ventures and Asahi Kasei. Multus also secured £2.15m ($2.5m) from Innovate UK as part of the highly-competitive EIC Accelerator. The biotech start-up specialises in creating growth media to produce cultivated meat. The investment is being used to fund further R&D, including a world-first production plant to scale its animal-free growth media in the UK and accelerate the development of the cultivated meat industry. It will also enable Multus to speed its product development in advanced growth media formulations and food-grade raw materials.
A THRIVING LAUNCHPAD FOR 2024
Congratulations to all the fantastic White City Innovation District businesses who secured funding and investment this year to take their world-leading ventures to the next level in 2024 and beyond.
The world is closely watching how WCID innovators tackle our most urgent challenges – from healthcare to sustainability – and we look forward to sharing more news of our community’s success in the coming year.