Europe is fertile ground for research in the microbiome and synthetic biology, and a new investment firm has formed to translate that emerging science into new biotech companies. EureKARE announced its launch this week with $60 million in funding to support its mission.
At the helm of eureKARE is CEO Rodolphe Besserve, a former executive at Paris-based investment bank Société Générale, where his most recent corporate finance role included working with startups.
“European science remains under exploited compared to countries like the U.S., with the gap between academia and big pharma widening over the years,” Besserve said in a prepared statement. “EureKARE aims to build bridges between these two bodies to create and support new ventures.”
While microbiome and synthetic biology research has seen a surge in activity in the U.S., that work is also growing in Europe—and it’s leading to deals. Late last year, MaaT Pharma, a Lyon, France-based startup developing microbiome therapies, extended its Series B round of financing to $29.5 million. Boston synthetic biology firm Ginkgo Bioworks, which is going public via a merger, this week announced an agreement to acquire Dutch DNA, a Utrecht, Netherlands-based company whose platform technology develops fungal strains and fermentation processes for producing proteins and organic acids.
More microbiome and synbio companies could be coming from eureKARE, os based in Luxembourg and has additional sites in France and Belgium. The company creates new firms in in two startup “studios” that select and nurture European scientific research and provide resources to the scientists behind that research. The microbiome-focused startup studio is called eureKABIOM; eureKASYNBIO is the synthetic biology startup studio. In addition to creating new companies, eureKARE also plans to invest in more mature biotechs, those seeking Series B financing or later.
Though eureKARE is new, it already has three companies in its portfolio. Stellate Therapeutics is focused on developing medicines addressing the gut-brain axis; synthetic biology startup Omne Possible is developing XNA, nucleic acids that are new to nature and have industrial applications; and NovoBiome is biotech that engineers bacteria into living medicines to treat chronic diseases.
EureKARE aims to create three to five new companies a year and infuse additional funding into three to five startups already in its portfolio. According to the company, the mix of early-stage ventures and more mature companies mitigates risk for shareholders. EureKARE said that its Series A financing came from high-net worth investors and family offices.
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