Biotech: Tacalyx raises 7 million euros in seed capital
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 www.boehringer-ingelheim-venture.com.
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.
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. www.idinvest.com
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.
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. www.tacalyx.com
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.