Markets & Companies

UK Biotechs Broke Investment Records in 2021

07.02.2022 - Investment in UK biotech and life science companies scored a lifetime high in 2021, according to new data from the BioIndustry Association (BIA) and Clarivate.

From Dec. 1, 2020, to Nov. 30, 2021, £4.5 billion was raised in public and private financings — £1.7 billon (60%) more than in 2020.

Venture capital made up the lion's share of the total raised (£2,518 million, an increase of 81% from 2020), yet it is the number and scale of Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) that mark out the year as distinctly different to what the UK has previously seen, with a not-so-subtle increase of 434 percentage points from 2020 — that's a rise from £244 million in 2020 to £1,304 million.

Oxford Nanopore, for example, topped UK Venture deals for the second year running with a £195 million fundraise prior to their £350 million London IPO, which was the largest amount raised in a listing on the London Stock Exchange by a biotech company.

Another notable company investment was Vaccitech, the Oxford University spin-out commercializing the technology platform behind the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, which raised a large series B round of £118 million prior to their IPO on NASDAQ.

The data also show UK company listings on markets on both sides of the Atlantic, which suggest an ecosystem reaching maturity. Furthermore, the record-breaking levels of venture investment indicates a healthy pipeline of companies coming through.

Steve Bates, Chief Executive of the BIA, said 2021's large fundraises were primarily the result of "welcome" overseas investment. Despite the UK having two world-leading sectors — life sciences and finance — a symbiosis between the two is lacking.

"There is great opportunity to turbo-charge the UK’s biotech and life sciences sector and capture more of its economic value for the UK by building better connections between the UK’s financial institutions and our innovative scaling businesses,” said Bates.

Commenting of the data, George Freeman, Minister for Science, Research and Innovation said the UK must complement the overseas investment with "the full financial firepower of the City of London" to encourage more companies to remain in the UK.