Biotech: Tacalyx raises 7 million euros in seed capital

8. Octo­ber 2019

Berlin, Germany — Taca­lyx, a biotech­no­logy company focu­sed on the disco­very and deve­lo­p­ment of novel anti-TACA (“Tumor Asso­cia­ted Carbo­hy­drate Anti­gens”) cancer thera­pies, announ­ced that it has successfully closed a EUR 7 million finan­cing round. The capi­tal increase invol­ves a consor­tium of leading Euro­pean inves­tors from the life scien­ces and tech­no­logy sectors, jointly led by Boeh­rin­ger Ingel­heim Venture Fund and Kurma Part­ners, with Idin­vest Part­ners, High-Tech Grün­der­fonds (HTGF), copa­rion and Crea­thor Ventures also participating.

Taca­lyx, a spin-out of the Max Planck Insti­tute (MPI) for Colloid and Inter­face Rese­arch, will use the proceeds to build its disco­very plat­form, select appro­priate “lead” candi­da­tes and begin their precli­ni­cal development.

TACAs repre­sent novel targets for cancer thera­pies due to their speci­fic expres­sion on a variety of tumors. At the same time, TACAs are viru­lence factors for tumor growth and spread, and ther­e­fore their masking and/or down­re­gu­la­tion impairs vital func­tions of the tumor cell. Due to the low immu­no­ge­ni­city of TACAs, the gene­ra­tion of speci­fic anti­bo­dies is a major chall­enge and requi­res inno­va­tive approa­ches as well as exten­sive know­ledge of the tech­no­logy used.

Tacalyx’s disco­very plat­form enables the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and vali­da­tion of speci­fic TACAs as tumor targets, as well as the gene­ra­tion of “lead” mole­cu­les direc­ted against these complex targets, with the goal of deve­lo­ping novel immu­no­the­ra­pies for more effec­tive cancer control. The company uniquely combi­nes its ability to synthe­size suffi­ci­ent quan­ti­ties of ultra-pure and highly complex TACA struc­tures for use in appro­priate analy­ti­cal and scree­ning plat­forms with its expe­ri­ence in gene­ra­ting anti­bo­dies against non-peptide targets.

Taca­lyx secu­res through the Max Planck Inno­va­tion GmbH has access to licen­ses and know-how of the under­ly­ing tech­no­lo­gies as well as to the inven­ti­ons of its scien­ti­fic co-foun­­ders Prof. Dr. Peter H. Seeber­ger (Direc­tor at the MPI of Collo­ids and Inter­faces and world leading expert in glyco­sci­ence) and Dr. Oren Mosco­vitz (Group Leader at the MPI of Collo­ids and Inter­faces and expert in glyco­bio­logy and glycoon­co­logy). Seeber­ger and Moscovitz’s disco­veries in glyco-science and its role in cancer, with finan­cial support from Max Planck Society Tech­no­logy Trans­fer funds, led to the deve­lo­p­ment of the proprie­tary Taca­lyx plat­form, which includes the gene­ra­tion of glycan-binding antibodies.

Dr. Peter Sonder­mann, CEO of Taca­lyx, said, “This funding from highly expe­ri­en­ced life science and tech­no­logy inves­tors repres­ents an important vali­da­tion of our plat­form and deve­lo­p­ment stra­tegy and will help posi­tion us at the fore­front of this ground­brea­king approach. In addi­tion to estab­li­shing the company and our lead gene­ra­tion disco­very plat­form, we will use these funds to study rele­vant TACA biology in detail and further evaluate and charac­te­rize our first lead anti­bo­dies and their func­tional role in cancer therapy. In addi­tion, in vivo phar­ma­co­logy studies to evaluate the safety and effi­cacy of our “lead” anti­bo­dies will provide further func­tional vali­da­tion to advance at least one of these anti­bo­dies into clini­cal development.”

Dr. Detlev Menne­rich, Invest­ment Direc­tor at Boeh­rin­ger Ingel­heim Venture Fund GmbH, said:

“We are plea­sed to have built this syndi­cate of leading inves­tors, follo­wing our stra­tegy of inves­t­ing in breakth­rough, thera­­peu­­tics-focu­­sed biotech­no­logy compa­nies that are gene­ra­ting inno­va­tion in biome­di­cal rese­arch. The gene­ra­tion of anti-TACA anti­bo­dies requi­res expert know­ledge to produce speci­fic high-affi­­nity binders for TACAs. Tacalyx’s TACA synthe­sis chemis­try, under­stan­ding of TACA biology, and ability to gene­rate and charac­te­rize anti-TACA anti­bo­dies against these weakly immu­no­ge­nic targets will enable the company to leverage their signi­fi­cant poten­tial in the treat­ment of quite a few cancers.”

As part of the finan­cing, Dr. Lena Krzy­zak (High-Tech Grün­der­fonds), Ulrich Mahr (Max Planck Inno­va­tion), Dr. Detlev Menne­rich (Boeh­rin­ger Ingel­heim Venture Fund), Dr. Peter Neubeck (Kurma Partners/Idinvest Part­ners), Dr. Sebas­tian Pünze­ler (copa­rion) and Karl­heinz Schme­lig (Crea­thor) will join Prof. Dr. Peter H. Seeber­ger (MPI for Collo­ids and Inter­faces) on Taca­lyx’ Super­vi­sory Board.

About the Boeh­rin­ger Ingel­heim Venture Fund
The Boeh­rin­ger Ingel­heim Venture Fund (BIVF) was estab­lished in 2010 and invests in breakth­rough biotech­no­logy compa­nies focu­sed on thera­peu­tics to drive inno­va­tion in biome­di­cal rese­arch. The BIVF seeks signi­fi­cant impro­ve­ments in pati­ent care through ground­brea­king science and clini­cal trans­la­tion by buil­ding long-term rela­ti­onships with scien­tists and entre­pre­neurs. The focus of the BIVF is on unpre­ce­den­ted thera­peu­tic concepts that address high medi­cal needs in immuno-onco­­logy, rege­ne­ra­tive medi­cine or infec­tious dise­a­ses. These may include novel plat­form tech­no­lo­gies to address previously unusable targets, new gene­ra­tion vacci­nes, and/or novel biolo­gics such as onco­ly­tic viral therapy, and digi­tal health. The BIVF takes an active role with its port­fo­lio compa­nies — deli­ve­ring signi­fi­cant value through its own exten­sive drug disco­very, scien­ti­fic and manage­ment exper­tise. The BIVF mana­ges 250 million euros and curr­ently over­sees a port­fo­lio of 25 compa­nies. For more infor­ma­tion, visit

About Kurma Partners
Foun­ded in July 2009, Kurma Part­ners is a major Euro­pean player with offices in Paris and Munich in finan­cing health­care and biotech­no­logy inno­va­tion, from crea­tion to growth capi­tal, nota­bly through Kurma Biofund I to III and Kurma Diagno­stics via stra­te­gic part­ner­ships with renow­ned Euro­pean rese­arch and medi­cal insti­tu­ti­ons. The new Kurma Biofund III fund invests in appro­xi­m­ately twelve to fifteen private compa­nies focu­sed on thera­peu­tic areas with high unmet medi­cal needs, of which appro­xi­m­ately 40% are early-stage finan­cings and start-ups such as Tacalyx.

About copa­rion
copa­rion is a venture capi­tal inves­tor for young, German tech­no­logy compa­nies. With a fund volume of 275 million euros, copa­rion makes a signi­fi­cant contri­bu­tion to the rapid and sustainable growth of young tech­no­logy compa­nies. Copa­rion support entre­pre­neu­rial vision with know-how without inter­fe­ring in the opera­tio­nal busi­ness. Thanks to its many years of expe­ri­ence in venture capi­tal and in buil­ding up compa­nies, the fund manage­ment reco­gni­zes poten­tial and opens up new perspec­ti­ves. copa­rion finan­ces exclu­si­vely toge­ther with co-inves­­tors. copa­rion invests up to 10 million euros per company, usually in seve­ral finan­cing rounds of 1–5 million euros each. The focus of the fund is on German compa­nies in the start-up and young growth phase.

About Crea­thor Ventures
Crea­thor Ventures invests in tech­­no­­logy-driven compa­nies that are advan­cing perso­na­liza­tion and digi­tiza­tion in health­care, as well as indus­try and enter­prise auto­ma­tion. The regio­nal focus is on Germany and Switz­er­land. From its offices in Bad Homburg and Zurich, the 15-strong team curr­ently supports over 30 tech­no­logy and health­care compa­nies. The manage­ment team has finan­ced over 200 compa­nies as lead or co-lead inves­tors over the past 30 years. More than 20 compa­nies were listed on inter­na­tio­nal stock exch­an­ges. Crea­thor Ventures curr­ently mana­ges a fund volume of over 230 million euros.

About Idin­vest Partners
Idin­vest Part­ners is a leading Euro­pean mid-market private equity firm. With EUR 8 billion in assets under manage­ment, the firm has tapped into various segments, inclu­ding inno­va­tive start-up venture capi­tal tran­sac­tions, mid-sized private debt, i.e. single-tran­che, senior and subor­di­na­ted debt, advice on primary and secon­dary invest­ments, and private equity. Idin­vest Part­ners was foun­ded in 1997 and was part of the Alli­anz Group until 2010. In Janu­ary 2018, Idin­vest Part­ners, previously an inde­pen­dent company, became a subsi­diary of Eura­zeo, a leading global invest­ment firm, with a diver­si­fied port­fo­lio of EUR 17 billion in assets under manage­ment, inclu­ding appro­xi­m­ately EUR 11 billion from invest­ment part­ners inves­ted in over 350 compa­nies.

About Max Planck Innovation
As the tech­no­logy trans­fer orga­niza­tion of the Max Planck Society, Max Planck Inno­va­tion is the link between indus­try and basic rese­arch. With our inter­di­sci­pli­nary team, we advise and support the scien­tists of the Max Planck Insti­tu­tes in the evalua­tion of inven­ti­ons, the filing of patents, and the estab­lish­ment of compa­nies. We offer indus­try central access to the inno­va­tions of the Max Planck Insti­tu­tes. In this way, we fulfill an important task: the trans­fer of basic rese­arch results into econo­mic­ally and soci­ally useful products.

About Taca­lyx
Taca­lyx is a priva­tely held onco­logy company focu­sed on the disco­very and deve­lo­p­ment of anti-TACA (Tumor Asso­cia­ted Carbo­hy­drate Anti­gen) anti­bo­dies for the treat­ment of cancer. TACAs are formed during mali­gnant trans­for­ma­tion in a micro­evo­lu­tio­nary process. Expres­sion of TACAs is eleva­ted in many tumor types, making TACAs attrac­tive poten­tial targets for cancer treat­ment, against which appro­priate thera­peu­tics are being deve­lo­ped using the proprie­tary tech­no­logy platform.

Taca­lyx was foun­ded by an expe­ri­en­ced team that has successfully deve­lo­ped drugs in seve­ral compa­nies, inclu­ding Glycart, Roche, Suppre­Mol, Baxalta, Vaxxilon, GlyXera and Glyco­Uni­verse. The foun­ders of the company include BIVF (repre­sen­ted by Dr. Detlev Menne­rich, Invest­ment Mana­ger), Dr. Peter Sonder­mann, CEO of Taca­lyx, Prof. Dr. Peter H. Seeber­ger, Direc­tor at the Max Planck Insti­tute of Collo­ids and Inter­faces, Dr. Oren Mosco­vitz, Group Leader at the MPI of Collo­ids and Inter­faces, and the Max Planck Society (repre­sen­ted by Ulrich Mahr, Member of the Execu­tive Board of Max Planck Innovation).

Taca­lyx is head­quar­te­red in Berlin and is backed by leading Euro­pean life science and tech­no­logy inves­tors such as Boeh­rin­ger Ingel­heim Venture Fund (BIVF), Kurma Part­ners, High-Tech Grün­der­fonds (HTGF), copa­rion, Crea­thor Ventures and Idpart­ners.

About High-Tech Grün­der­fonds (HTGF)
The seed inves­tor High-Tech Grün­der­fonds (HTGF) finan­ces tech­no­logy start­ups with growth poten­tial. With a total volume of EUR 895.5 million distri­bu­ted across three funds and an inter­na­tio­nal part­ner network, HTGF has alre­ady supported more than 550 start­ups since 2005. His team of expe­ri­en­ced invest­ment mana­gers and startup experts supports the young compa­nies with know-how, entre­pre­neu­rial spirit and passion. The focus is on high-tech start-ups in the soft­ware, media and Inter­net sectors, as well as hard­ware, auto­ma­tion, health­care, chemi­cals and life scien­ces. More than EUR 2 billion in capi­tal has been inves­ted in the HTGF port­fo­lio by exter­nal inves­tors in more than 1,400 follow-on finan­cing rounds to date. The fund has also successfully sold shares in more than 100 companies.


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