This quarter stands out as the strongest period since the historical highs of 2021, representing an impressive 48% increase from the previous quarter’s takings. At the current rate, the UK life sciences sector is on track to exceed last year’s total fundraisings.
Despite the continuing global economic malaise, the UK biotech sector managed to maintain a consistent quarter-on-quarter increase this year. Although public market launches remain challenging, biotechs made a strong comeback on follow-on fundraisings accumulating £315 million following a sluggish first half of the year. Venture capital fundraisings didn’t experience the same acceleration, totalling £249 million, which is a fairly typical sum seen in more recent years.
Internationally, the biotech sector has seen steady growth in attracting capital, securing £10.9 billion worldwide this quarter – a 24% increase since the beginning of this year. European and Asian countries saw a strong recovery. The former doubled the funds raised last quarter. Meanwhile, the US, while maintaining its dominant position in attracting the majority of funding, saw a 21% decrease across all fundraisings.
2023 Q2 figures at a glance
Steve Bates OBE
In the face of continuing global economic uncertainties, it is fantastic to see the exceptional resilience of UK biotechs and the confidence of global investors in our sector. This quarter’s total of £563 million is the best we’ve seen since the record-breaking year of 2021.
The remarkable 48% increase from the last quarter is a clear testament to the sector’s strength and a welcome signal of an improving financial picture. We are particularly encouraged by the renewed investor confidence in public companies. All this combined with the very positive progress we have seen from UK policymakers on unlocking pension funds for additional investment in our sector signals a very bright future.
UK biotechs raised a total of £249 million in venture funding, down 26% from the last quarter but a 35% increase on the same period last year.
Despite fewer deals taking place – with 15 deals completed down from 26 – the average deal size rose from £13 million to £18 million driven by a £90+ million deal secured by Beacon Therapeutics.
Investor appetite was strong on supporting the growth of early-stage companies as the majority of deals were seed and series A deals, while later-stage investment was thin on the ground, although many deals didn’t disclose a stage.
Despite the slight dip in venture fundraisings this quarter, deal activity usually slows down during the summer months in previous years on record, so the figures could improve.
Total venture capital raised by quarter, for the past five years
UK biotech venture capital deals by amount raised and deal count
Beacon Therapeutics – an Oxford University spin-out backed by Syncona – launched strongly with £96.6 million secured in seed funding raising the mean seed deal value to £21 million this quarter, a remarkable increase from the typical £4 million seen this year. The average value of series A deals was £18 million down from £40 million in the last quarter, reflecting a trend of smaller deal sizes.
Top five UK biotech venture capital deals
Internationally, the impact of the global economic downturn was felt by biotechs, as venture capital fundraisings declined by 16% compared to the same period last year.
European countries saw a 26% decrease in venture fundraisings, securing £670 million and half the number of deals compared to the last quarter with the UK as no exception.
In the US, there was also a dip in venture financing activity with a total of £2.3 billion raised, representing an 18% quarter-on-quarter decrease. Meanwhile, Asian companies rebounded after a sharp decline in fundraising activity earlier this year, raising £735 million in venture capital up 232% from last quarter’s raisings.
International VC financing
Initial public offerings (IPOs) remain challenging for European companies, including UK biotechs, as there were no new market launches in the past year.
Worldwide there was a notable recovery led primarily by US companies, securing a total £702 million across 10 deals. This represents a 28% quarter-on-quarter increase and a 151% increase from the same period last year.
Total raised in IPO by quarter, for the past five years
During this quarter, the UK biotech sector saw a surge in follow-on financing activity, with public companies raising a total of £315 million after a year of subdued activity.
This marks a remarkable rebound from the £44 million raised last quarter, making this the second strongest quarter since 2020. Bicycle Therapeutics’ substantial £175.1 million fundraise on NASDAQ contributed significantly to this sum. With renewed investor backing, the sector is well-positioned to exceed the funding levels of last year.
Total raised in follow-ons, shown by quarter in past five years
Top five UK biotech public follow-on deals
European companies quadrupled their fundraising efforts, collectively raising over £2 billion in follow-on public fundings compared to the lacklustre £397 million in the previous quarter. Notably, the Netherlands contributed with an impressive £839 million. In contrast, Asian and US biotechs faced challenges on public markets, with Asian companies securing £259 million and US biotechs raising £4.2 billion – a 37% and 24% quarter-on-quarter decrease, respectively. The rebound seen by European biotechs this quarter has contributed significantly to the upward trend in global public fundraisings.