The year got off to a slow start with only £295 million raised by UK-based innovative life sciences and biotech companies in the three months leading to the end of February, compared to £485 million in the same period a year earlier.
Venture capital made up the vast majority of total funds raised and, with £258 million secured, it wasn’t a bad start to the year for private companies from a historical perspective. Public companies continued to fare far worse, however, contributing only £37 million to the quarterly total. There were no new market launches.
With only 16% of the 2022 total raised by the end of February 2023, the sector is facing another year of low investor confidence as macro-economic factors continue to weigh heavily on global markets.
2023 Q1 figures at a glance
Steve Bates OBE
The UK’s high-quality science is still drawing in investors from around the world, but low investor confidence is making the big deals that usually drive our figures much harder to come by.
This is a downturn impacting all sectors and inflation is hitting businesses and citizens alike. Now more than ever, government support is needed to ensure the UK’s life science start-ups and scale-ups emerge from this period stronger and ready to deliver world-changing innovation.
The first quarter of 2023 has seen deal flow continue for companies at all stages of development, and despite difficult conditions, the private sector had its third best start to the year on record.
£258 million was raised across 20 deals, with the average deal size £13 million. However, the quarterly total was slightly over half of that raised in the same period the year before and significantly below that raised in 2021.
Total raised shown by quarter, for the past five years
With valuations down, private biotechs are being forced to work harder for their capital and investors continue to support their existing portfolio rather than invest in earlier-stage companies. Only four seed deals were announced during the period covered by this report.
UK biotech venture capital deals by amount raised and deal count
Later-stage rounds dominate the top deals table, with Pulmocide and Grey Wolf Therapeutics among those that were able to secure funding. Akamis Bio came third with a £25 million convertible note financing and relaunched with a name change from PsiOxus Therapeutics.
Top five UK biotech venture capital deals
|Grey Wolf Therapeutics
Looking at the global picture, venture capital investment in biotech was down around the world in the first quarter of 2023, with £3.1 billion raised compared to £5.5 billion in the same period of 2022.
In the US, a total of £1.9 billion was raised in private deals, down from £3.3 billion a year earlier. In Europe, £624 million was raised, down from £1.4 billion. The UK remained the largest contributor to Europe’s total, making up 40% of the capital raised and over half of the deals seen across the continent.
Asia saw less-steep declines, with China’s venture takings totalling £449 million compared to £553 million in 2022.
International VC financing
There were no UK biotech IPOs during the first quarter of 2023, continuing the dry spell suffered by the global sector since the end of 2021.
Only six listings occurred in the US, all on Nasdaq, raising £373 million, and three in Asia, raising a total of £180 million. No European companies listed during the period.
Total raised in IPO by quarter, for the past five years
Share prices remained suppressed on public markets and few UK companies raised fresh funds during the first quarter of 2023.
£37 million was raised by the UK’s public biotechs, mostly on London’s AIM. Although it does not signal a return to health and is poor by historical standards, the first quarter 2023 total is ten-times that seen at the start of 2022, after which conditions did pick up slightly.
Total raised in follow-ons, shown by quarter in past five years
Top five UK biotech public follow-on deals
Elsewhere, public financings were healthier. £3.9 billion was raised by US biotechs and £1.2 billion by European companies. Companies in Germany, Switzerland and Denmark all raised around £200 million per country.