An Austrian vaccine development company based in Vienna has provided Europe’s venture capital market with a welcome boost, after it completed a E30m ($34m) round of financing, one of the largest financing rounds of the past couple of years.
The E30m round, expected to cover Intercell’s funding requirements for the next three years, was led by German VC firm Global Life Science Ventures and included a group of blue chip venture capital providers comprising Apax Partners, Nomura, Techno Venture Management (TVM) and NIB Capital. STAR Ventures also participated in the financing.
Intercell said it would use the proceeds of the funding round for the further development of vaccines and technologies. The company’s lead product, a therapeutic hepatitis C vaccine, is currently in a phase II clinical trial and the company’s prophylactic vaccine against Japanese encephalitis is expected to enter phase III clinical trials in 2004.
“Intercell stands out in the European biotech market. It has an entrepreneurial and pharmaceutically experienced management who can develop their broad and exciting discovery platform in immunotherapeutics into a deep pipeline of clinical products,” said Cathrin Petty, a director at Apax Partners.
Since becoming operational, Intercell has succeeded in raising venture capital totalling $98m. The first venture capital investment round of $5.5m was led by TVM in 1998 and 1999. A second financing round, led by Apax Partners and Nomura, raised $30.4m in November 2000. Other existing investors include Sal. Oppenheim, KB Lux Venture Capital, Go Equity and Wiener Städtische Versicherung.
“Since our last investment Intercell has strengthened the management team and developed a late stage clinical pipeline,” said Denise Pollard-Knight, head of healthcare private equity at Nomura. “Now with more than three years’ cash the company is clearly positioned to develop a major presence in the vaccine field.”
The European venture capital market has continued to fall from its heights at the peak of the technology boom in 2000. According to data published by Ernst & Young and VentureOne, investment by European venture capitalists fell from E1.04bn in the final quarter of last year to E639m in the first quarter of this year.