Show Me The Money: Bay Area’s Top 5 Venture Capital-Backed Biotechs

Published: Sep 18, 2017

Show Me The Money: Bay Area’s Top 5 Venture Capital-Backed Biotechs September 15, 2017
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Quite routinely, venture capital firms throw millions of dollars at biotech startups. In the course of researching who is funding what in the San Francisco Bay Area, the San Francisco Business Times also reported on what the top area biotech companies are spending their VC money on. Let’s take a look at the top five.

1. Stemcentrx

Based in South San Francisco, Stemcentrx focuses on oncology. It was acquired by AbbVie in spring of 2016 for $10.2 billion. The deal closed earlier this year. Between the third quarter of 2015 and the second quarter of 2016, the company received $250 million in venture capital funding from undisclosed investors.

Stemcentrx, at the time of the acquisition, had five drug candidates in clinical trials. Each drug targeted and killed the cancer stem cells responsible for the tumors targeted.

2. SFJ Pharmaceuticals Group

Headquartered in Pleasanton, Calif., SFJ brought in $177.35 million in venture capital between the third quarter of 2015 and the second quarter of 2016. SFJ is a global pharmaceutical company with a business model that draws on partnering strategic funding and clinical development resources with late-phase drug development candidates.

In June 2017, the European Commission approved Pfizer (PFE)’s Besponsa (inotuzumab ozogamicin) to treat relapsed or refractory CD22-positive B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Besponsa came out of a collaboration between Pfizer and Celltech (now UCB). Pfizer also collaborated with SFJ Pharmaceuticals Group on the registrational program (INO-VATE ALL) for Besponsa.

3. 23andMe, Inc.

Located in Mountain View, Calif., in the same period as above, the company raised $115 million in venture capital funds. 23andMe operates personalized genetic testing for ancestry evaluations. It calls itself “the leading consumer genetics and research company.” It was founded in 2006. For this year, the company received the first and only FDA-authorization for over-the-counter genetic health risk reports.

On September 12, 23andMe raised $250 million in growth financing led by new investors Sequoia Capital. Allen & Company LLC served as an advisor on the financing. Sequoia was joined by new investors Euclidean Capital, Altimeter Capital and the Wallenberg Foundation. Current investors joining the round include Fidelity Management & Research Company, and Casdin Capital.

4. Gritstone Oncology

Headquartered in Emeryville, Calif., Gritstone describes itself as “a personalized cancer immunotherapy company that is advancing the field of immuno-oncology to fight cancer in patients with the most difficult-to-treat tumors.” On Sept. 7, the company announced it had closed a $92.7 million Series B preferred stock financing (Series B). The money will be used to advance its tumor antigen identification platform and pipeline of personalized cancer immunotherapies. It will also fund the ongoing construction of its 43,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Pleasanton, Calif. The round was led by new investor Lilly Asia Ventures, with participation from GV (formerly Google Ventures), Trinitas Capital, and Alexandria Venture Investments. Existing investors include Versant Ventures, The Column Group, Clarus Funds and Frazier Healthcare Partners.

Between the third quarter of 2015 and the second quarter of 2016, Gritstone raised $112.24 million in venture capital.

5. Guardant Health

Based in Redwood City, Calif., Guardant raised $82.84 million in venture capital funds between Q3 2015 and Q2 2016. However, on May 11, 2017, the company raised $360 million from investors. The total money raised is now $550 million.

Guardant offers a blood test that looks at 73 genes to evaluate for a variety of cancers. Its goal is to test 1 million people over the next five years.

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