Advent Venture backs MetaPhore

The UK IT and life sciences investor has made its third investment in as many weeks as part of a $30m investment in the US pharmaceuticals firm.

Advent Venture Partners, the UK-based investor in early-stage life science and IT companies, has completed its third investment in rapid succession, leading a $30m third round financing of MetaPhore Pharmaceuticals, a pharmaceutical discovery and development company based in the US. Joining Advent in this latest round were HealthCare Ventures VI and Merrill Lynch Ventures LP 2001 as well as previous investors including Prolog Ventures, Gryphon Holdings, Clayton Capital Investors and Simile Investors.

The financing represents the third transaction completed by Advent in as many weeks, although Patrick Lee, partner at the firm’s healthcare team points out that the close proximity of the three deals is coincidental. “In keeping with the current uncertainty in the market, due diligence has been quite lengthy and it is as much by chance as anything that these deals have appeared in quick succession,” he said.

However Lee was cautiously optimistic about the firm’s opportunities across its two focus areas, in spite of the current market volatility. “Dealflow is quite promising at the moment and current valuations definitely benefit the investor, although this merely reflects the increased risk of investing in companies at a time when exit opportunities are few and far between.”

A lack of exit opportunities means that firms increasingly have to budget for subsequent financing rounds in their analysis. “The upside of this is that it is now possible to invest in companies at a much later stage in their evolution at good valuations,” said Lee, who added that he was confident of finding attractive investments for the remaining 60 per cent of the firm’s £300m Advent Private Equity III fund raised two years ago.

The $30m investment in Metaphore will enable the firm to develop and commercialise its small molecule mimetic candidates both independently and via partnerships. In June Advent participated in the $70m second round investment in Infinity Pharmaceuticals, the US based drug discovery firm based in Boston. The firm’s IT team recently led a E5m investment round in French mining software provider Pertinence.