Backing Innovation in Life Sciences – Factsheet

handshakingThe British Business Bank is the UK's economic development bank. Our mission is to drive sustainable growth and prosperity across the UK, and to enable the transition to a net zero economy, by supporting access to finance for smaller businesses. We deliver a wide range of finance programmes, each designed to address a market gap and support smaller businesses’ access to both debt and equity finance.

Our commercial subsidiary British Patient Capital was established in 2018 with £2.5bn to invest on fully commercial terms alongside private sector investors into UK-focused venture and growth capital funds, to generate commercial returns and crowd in additional private capital. The funds then invest in high-growth, innovative UK companies. Additionally, British Patient Capital also invests directly into growth stage, R&D-intensive companies in life sciences and deeptech, supporting ambitious entrepreneurs who want to build successful, world-class businesses.

Compared to the US, life sciences companies in the UK face a significant gap in the funding available over the course of their development, representing significant untapped economic potential for the UK. British Patient Capital plays an important role catalysing additional private sector capital into scaling life sciences companies in the UK, both by investing in life sciences funds and by investing directly into growth stage life sciences companies.

The British Business Bank has a strategic objective to back innovation, by ensuring the UK’s most innovative businesses, including life sciences, deep tech, and cleantech companies, can access the capital they need to start and scale. Through our various programmes, over 300 life sciences firms have received around £1 billion of investment.

As the largest domestic investor in UK venture and venture growth funds, British Patient Capital is drawing on its strong track record, established network of relationships, and experienced investment team to help ensure innovative UK life sciences companies have the patient capital they need to fulfil their potential.

  • Investing in life sciences funds: British Patient Capital has committed over £150m to five UK life sciences-focused venture capital funds as part of its core programme, making it one of the most active fund of funds investors in the sector, Additionally, its Life Sciences Investment Programme has £200m to make cornerstone commitments to later stage life sciences venture growth funds with a strong UK focus.
  • Investing directly into life sciences companies: British Patient Capital has committed £64m to eight UK life sciences companies at growth-stage funding rounds, alongside £333m from private sector investors, through its £375m Future Fund: Breakthrough programme, launched in July 2021. British Patient Capital is now the most active growth stage investor in UK life sciences companies.
  • Catalysing private sector investment into life sciences: Through all its investments, British Patient Capital is achieving a ‘multiplier effect’, crowding in additional private sector capital into scaling life sciences companies in the UK.

The Challenge

The UK is home to world class scientific research and high potential life sciences companies. As such, life sciences is an important sector for UK venture capital investment. Despite this, UK biotechs raise significantly less funding than their US counterparts, and are often reliant on overseas investors for growth funding.

The funding shortfall is particularly acute for British life sciences companies in their growth stage, where there are fewer UK investors leading and participating in funding rounds. Across 2011-2021, companies that received overseas investment were more likely to have exited abroad, representing significant unrealised economic potential for the UK.

£1.8bn

total funding raised by UK biotechs in 2022, equivalent to $2bn, compared to $51bn raised by US biotechs

35%

of UK VC deals were in R&D-intensive industries (including life sciences) over 2019-2021, less than all other countries

17x

more US life sciences companies raised funding rounds of more than £30m than UK life sciences companies did in 2022

32%

of investors in UK growth stage life sciences deals in 2022 were from the UK

22 UK life sciences companies raised more than £30m in 2022

Of the 100 investors that participated in these 22 investment rounds, only 32% were from the UK. Compared to the 41% UK investor participation in biotech investment rounds at all stages, this shows that there are fewer UK investors active at the growth stage.

Only 18% (4) of these 22 funding rounds featured UK investors in co-lead positions, with only one deal led by all-UK investors (Proximie raised $80m at their Series C round). Across therapeutics, health tech and medtech: 36% of these investment rounds were Series A funding rounds, with 32% at Series B and 32% at Series C or later.

British Patient Capital was the most active investor in these rounds, making it the most active growth stage investor in UK life sciences companies.

375 US life sciences companies raised more than £30m in 2022

The average investment round raised by a UK life sciences company was only £12.4m, significantly below the US average of $49m (£40.7m).

The average assets under management (AUM) for UK fund managers investing in life sciences is £985m, compared to an average £3.5bn in AUM for the most active US life science investors.

The combined AUM of all UK biotech funds is £6.3bn, while the most prominent life sciences growth investors in US life sciences have a combined AUM of £64bn.

The most active biotech investor in the US completed 37 investments in 2022, in comparison to only 5 investments made by the most active biotech investor in the UK.

What we’re doing

The British Business Bank wants to ensure that high growth potential companies in the UK’s most promising sectors can access the growth capital they need to scale up, innovate, and create jobs and economic growth here in the UK. Through our various programmes, over 300 life sciences firms have received around £1 billion of investment.

At the earlier stages, through the Bank's Enterprise Capital Funds programme, 35 life sciences small businesses have been supported with over £80 million of investment from the Bank. At growth stage, our support for life sciences is delivered by British Patient Capital, which invests both as a Limited Partner (LP) in life sciences focused funds, as well as a direct investor into UK life sciences companies with cutting edge technologies.

Investing in life sciences funds

As at March 2022, British Patient Capital has made commitments to more than 61 venture capital funds through its core programme. This includes commitments of over £150m to five UK life sciences-focused venture capital funds, making it one of the most active fund of funds investors in the sector, with a highly experienced, specialist team of life sciences fund investors. British Patient Capital’s existing fund managers that are active in the life sciences sector include Abingworth, Advent Life Sciences, Dementia Discovery Fund, MVM Partners, and SV Health Investors. An independent interim evaluation has shown that British Patient Capital is effectively backing innovation and cementing the UK’s position as a science superpower.

92%

of surveyed BPC-backed firms are using the equity investment to fund research and development

83%

of surveyed firms receiving BPC-backed investment went on to commercialise new services and products

11%

of BPC-backed companies are academic spinouts, compared to just 2% of all equity-backed companies

24%

of BPC-backed firms are later growth stage companies, compared to 9% of all equity-backed companies

Life Sciences Investment Programme

Recognising the specific growth equity gap faced by life sciences companies in the UK, British Patient Capital launched the £200m Life Sciences Investment Programme (LSIP) in July 2021. LSIP makes cornerstone commitments to later stage life sciences venture growth funds with a strong UK focus, so that capital-intensive, cutting-edge firms in the sector receive the long-term funding they need to succeed in the UK. To further support the objectives of LSIP, British Patient Capital also entered into a collaboration agreement with Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company. LSIP aims to:
  • Increase the supply of venture growth finance to high-growth and innovative life sciences companies in the UK;
  • Signal the competitiveness and commercial viability of the UK life sciences sector;
  • Enable the emergence and development of UK-based, large-scale, life sciences specialist fund managers.
The first investment from this programme was announced in January 2023: British Patient Capital invested $48.6m as a cornerstone investor in SV Health Investors $265m SV Biotech Crossover Opportunities Fund (SV BCOF). At the time of the announcement, four UK-based companies had received investment from this Fund: Bicycle, Quell Therapeutics, Pulmocide and EyeBio.  

Investing directly into life sciences companies

British Patient Capital launched its Future Fund: Breakthrough programme in July 2021 with £375m to invest in life sciences and deep tech companies led by ambitious entrepreneurs who want to build successful, world-class businesses. British Patient Capital’s investment team aims to identify and support companies that have the potential to scale breakthrough technologies internationally, and define new categories, all from a core of R&D carried out in the UK. As at February 2023, British Patient Capital has invested in eight stand-out UK life sciences companies through the Future Fund: Breakthrough programme. To be eligible for investment, companies must be registered in the UK, with a meaningful proportion of management and the majority of R&D taking place in the UK. British Patient Capital invests between £5m and £10m into funding rounds of at least £30m, as a co-investor in partnership with the private sector.

Future Fund Breakthrough – Facts and Figures (May 2023)

£70m

committed to 9 UK life sciences companies from Future Fund: Breakthrough

£8m

average investment from BPC

£423m

of co-investment from the private sector alongside BPC into these 9 UK companies

33%

of portfolio companies led by female CEOs, double the market average of 17%

Future Fund: Breakthrough – Life Sciences Portfolio (May 2023)

Epsilogen logo

Epsilogen

A therapeutics company pioneering the application of IgE antibodies to cancer therapy.

Grey Wolf logo

Grey Wolf

An immuno-oncology specialist developing first-of-its-kind cancer therapies, which generate a novel immune response against tumours to make them easier for the body to detect and destroy.

Microbiotica logo

Microbiotica

A personalised medicine specialist that uses machine learning and advanced sampling methods to develop live bacterial therapeutics, currently focused on cancer immunotherapy and ulcerative colitis.

Nucleome Therapeutics logo

Nucleome Therapeutics

A biotechnology company using advanced genetic and computational methods to decode the ‘dark genome’ and discover new ways to treat disease.

OMass Therapeutics

OMass Therapeutics

A platform therapeutic company using native mass spectrometry to produce novel medicines against highly validated but inadequately drugged targets, with a focus on immunological and rare diseases.

Proximie logo

Proximie

A healthtech platform allowing surgeons to virtually ‘scrub-in’ to any operating theatre, empowering clinicians to share their skills in real-time and deliver more consistent healthcare quality.

Perspectum logo

Perspectum

A healthtech company whose AI-enabled medical image analysis helps patients and clinicians better understand chronic systemic diseases and cancers, enabling early detection, diagnosis, and targeted treatment.

Quell TX logo

Quell Therapeutics

A leader in developing engineered T-regulatory (Treg) cell therapies for serious medical conditions driven by over activity of the immune system.

The Future Fund: Breakthrough portfolio demonstrates the breadth and calibre of opportunities in the market for growth stage investors in the UK. British Patient Capital has supported these companies alongside investment from some of the leading life sciences investors globally, including: Advent Life Sciences, Oxford Science Enterprises, Epidarex Capital, SV Health Investors, and Syncona from the UK, Sofinnova Partners, Andera Partners, and Jeito Partners in Europe, Canaan Partners, F-Prime, Emerson Collective and Health Quest Capital in the US, and the corporate venture funds of Merck KGaA, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis and Pfizer.

This demonstrates that UK companies are attracting funding from investors with a broad range of interests. However, 75% (6) of Future Fund: Breakthrough’s investments have had investment from the USA, with 37% (3) of the investments led by US firms, 25% (2) led by EU firms and 12.5% (1) led by Asian firms. Only two (25%) of investments have been co-led by UK investors to date. This experience is reflected across all 22 funding rounds over £30m that took place in the UK in 2022.

Future Fund: Breakthrough has been well-received by the market. British Patient Capital supports companies with its ability to provide domestic, stable capital with long-term investment horizons, and a shared commitment to their ambitions to build globally relevant life sciences companies.

23%

of all life sciences funding in rounds greater than £30m came from BPC in 2022.

7%

of all UK life sciences funding raised in 2022 was from the Future Fund: Breakthrough programme

18%

of all life sciences funding rounds greater than £30m were led or co-led by UK investors

56%

of life sciences companies that raised more than £30m in 2022 are developing novel therapeutics

Investing in life sciences funds

Case Study: Alchemab Therapeutics

Alchemab Therapeutics is a healthcare company that is harnessing the power of naturally protective antibodies to develop novel products for patients with hard-to-treat diseases.

Founded in 2019 with a seed round led by SV Health Investors, a BPC-backed fund manager, Alchemab has developed a highly differentiated platform which enables the identification of novel drug targets, therapeutics and patient stratification tools through analysis of patient antibodies.

In 2021, Alchemab raised a £60m Series A round from a host of investors, including SV Health Investors and another BPC-backed fund manager, the Dementia Discovery Fund. The investment is being used to advance its unique target-agnostic drug discovery platform, as well as enable it to further advance its discovery programmes to clinic.

Investing directly into life sciences companies

Case Study: Microbiotica

Microbiotica has developed technology which uses the body’s trillions of resident bacteria – known as the microbiome – to discover and develop therapeutic medicines and biomarkers for a range of disorders and diseases. The company’s current areas of focus are cancer immunotherapy and ulcerative colitis.

British Patient Capital invested in Microbiotica in 2022 through the Future Fund: Breakthrough programme, as part of a £50m Series B funding round led by Flerie Invest and Tencent.

Microbiotica’s former CEO Mike Romanos said: “It is no exaggeration to say that the early commitment from Future Fund: Breakthrough was absolutely critical to pulling together a syndicate for this essential fundraise. After that we were able to bring in Tencent and Flerie to complete a major round. Without BPC this would not have happened.”

Get in contact

If you would like to meet to discuss the British Business Bank’s work breaking down barriers to small business finance, please contact BBBPublicAffairs@british-business-bank.co.uk.

Notes on methodology

Data on life sciences companies that raised more than £30m between 1 January 2022 and 31 December 2022 was sourced from Pitchbook across therapeutics, pharmaceutics, biotechnology, medtech, healthtech and digital health, and cross referenced with deal announcements. Five of Future Fund: Breakthrough’s eight life sciences investments meet these criteria (one was announced in December 2021 and two were announced January 2023).