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21 October 2014

Third-quarter activity in university venturing

Cancer immunotherapies lead as university dealflow hits $2.86bn.

Author: Gregg Bayes-Brown, editor

The data for Q3, traditionally a quiet period for universities, delivered strong results. In fact, our total dealflow figure reached $20m more than our total dealflow for the first half over a slightly smaller number of deals – 189 compared with 220.

As mentioned in our first-half data in July’s issue of Global University Venturing, the increase in dealflow – around double of the whole of H1 2014, which in turn was double that of H12013 – cannot be attributed to increased activity. Rather, it is a reflection of Global University Venturing’s expanding ability to capture deal and fund data.

Cancer immunotherapy companies such as Juno Therapeutics (see feature) have once again stolen the headlines in Q3 as total dealflow for the period reached $2.86bn over 189 combined deals, donations and exits recorded by Global University Venturing.

Juno Therapeutics extended its already impressive $175m series A with a further $134m in series B, demonstrating the potential value of its underlying technology, which reprograms the immune system to target cancer. Fellow immunotherapy firm Adaptimmune, a spin-out of Oxford University, secured $104m in series A funding, while its University of California Los Angeles peer Kite Pharma, the winner of Global University Venturing’s Deal of the Year 2013, raised $128m in its initial public offering.

The largest single movement of cash came in the form of a donation, however, as venture capitalist Gerald Chan returned $350m to his alma mater Harvard. The cash will go to the institution’s School of Public Health.

The US once again received the lion’s share of dealflow, with 48% of deals. As with previous data reports, the UK was in second place, taking 28%. Of the rest of the world, Australia was most prominent, with the country’s renewed focus on technology transfer and university startups building up results. The most active university, in terms of deals monitored by Global University Venturing, was Oxford University. The institution was also the most active in the first half.


University-linked fundraising activity did not quite reach the heights of H1 2014 – $3.5bn raised – with $816m raised across 22 funds.

The largest fund was raised by Arch Venture Partners, originally a spin-out from Chicago University’s tech transfer office. Aiming for its eighth fund, the venture capitalist flew past its target of $250m to reach $400m, bringing the firm’s total to $1.85bn. The investor will focus on healthcare, energy and materials.

The second fund, although smaller in size, is potentially even more exciting, particularly for the campuses making up the University of California (UC) system. Earlier in the year, the institution overturned a 25-year ban on investing in its own startups and spin-outs. UC quickly followed this up with the announcement that it was launching a $250m university venturing fund, dubbed UC Ventures (see news focus).

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