Biopharma Funding in the Age of COVID-19

Apr 15, 2020

By John Hallinan, Chief Business Officer, MassBio

We have been living in a historic time defined by a continuous stream of news that no Washington Insider could spin as positive.

At the same time, we can be heartened by the industry’s response to the pandemic and by the strength of the Massachusetts public-private partnership, which is on full display each day. Massachusetts is the top biomedical cluster due to the strong alliance between academia, government, and industry, and that bond will be reinforced by this pandemic and pay dividends in the future.

Some good news to consider:

Massachusetts organizations have raised over $600M during the past several weeks. We offer kudos to Affinia Therapeutics, Akous, ElevateBio, i20 Therapeutics, iTeos Therapeutics, Pandion Therapeutics, Regenacy Pharmaceuticals, and Tango Therapeutics.

Despite the gyrations of the stock market, Keros Therapeutics completed an Initial Public Offering at the top end of the price range. The Keros news is continuing evidence that Massachusetts companies receive a hearty welcome on Wall Street.

Additionally, Flagship Pioneering raised a $1.1B fund. We look forward to watching them deploy the capital to build life science companies and create breakthroughs in human health.

Alnylam and Dicerna announced a groundbreaking development and commercialization collaboration, and Alnylam followed that news by announcing a $2B investment from Blackstone.

And finally, Arrakis struck a collaboration with Roche to develop a suite of RNA-targeted small-molecule drugs.

We congratulate all of the organizations for their success and offer our thanks for providing us with good news. The human and intellectual capital in these organizations would allow them to do their work anywhere and we are grateful for their presence in the Massachusetts ecosystem. We pledge our continued best efforts to strengthen the ecosystem and earn their allegiance and presence.

Despite working remotely, we continue to convene, connect, and catalyze albeit in a virtual sense. We entered 2020 with a full pipeline of Pharma and Partnering Days and it is unfortunate that the spring events had to be deferred due to the pandemic. These events have become premier marketplaces to connect the buyers and sellers of innovation and are essential to furthering innovation in the Commonwealth. I am pleased to note that Pharma/Medtech interest in the Massachusetts ecosystem is at an all-time high.

I offer my best wishes and hope that you, family, friends, and colleagues remain healthy throughout the duration of this pandemic. I believe that science will illuminate a path forward and we will emerge from this experience wiser. I have been practicing social distancing and news distancing and offer that both achieve the endpoints we need to flatten the curve. I have a simple philosophy on the news – in Dr. Fauci we trust, and all others must bring data (and the science to back it up).

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