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US investors help German unicorn score $270 million

Deutschland. Mainz. BioNtech. Forschungslabor. 29.2.2016. Photo: Bernd Roselieb
There's money somewhere in here. Source: Bernd Roselieb for Handelsblatt

Unicorns, startup companies valued at more than $1 billion, are rare, but even more elusive are German biotech unicorns. Mainz-based Biontech is developing customized vaccines that rev up patients’ immune systems to fight cancer, and it’s valued at €2 billion to €2.5 billion after closing a Series A financing round of $270 million (€225 million), with much help from US investors.

The early-stage round, the largest by a German biotech firm and one of the largest in Europe, was led by the Redmile Group, a US financial investor. It elevates the company to the level of listed German biotech firms such as Qiagen, Morphosys and Evotec.

Securing the attention of US investors like Redmile, Janus Henderson, Invus and Fidelity is crucial to help Biontech reach the stock market. So far, the company, with 700 employees, is the largest unlisted biotech firm in Europe. But going public is only half the battle: The company, which sees an IPO on the horizon perhaps for 2020, must still prove its therapies in clinical studies and will burn through a lot of capital in the process.

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