Intercell tops up $50m funding round

The Austrian vaccine developer has landed the largest biotechnology financing round for two years with lead investments from MPM Capital and Global Life Science Ventures.

Austrian vaccine development company Intercell has closed the largest European biotechnology financing round for two years, raising a total of $50m from a group of international investors.


Global Life Science Ventures led the initial closing in July 2003, and MPM Capital invested in a second closing on November 20. In doing so, Intercell has become Europe's first biotech company to achieve a total of $100m in private funds.


The first capital investment round of $5.5m was led by TVM in 1999. In November 2000, Apax Partners and Nomura led a $30.4m second round. The third round of financing was led by Global Life Science Ventures. Other existing investors include Sal Oppenheim, KB Lux Venture Capital, Go Equity and Wiener Städtische Versicherung. In addition, Kapital & Wert, an Austrian investment company, which invested more than $28.1m between 1999 and 2002.


“The participation of MPM Capital strengthens our US investor base and provides a major validation of our strategy,” said Alexander von Gabain, CEO of Intercell.  “This financing will be directed to accelerating the clinical development of our lead products: a therapeutic hepatitis C vaccine and a vaccine against Japanese encephalitis. Both products will enter Phase III clinical trials in 2004.”


Speaking at the time of the first close of the latest round in the summer, Cathrin Petty, a director at Apax Partners said: “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.”


Despite a number of recent large fundraisings by European early-stage companies, the European venture capital sector is still struggling to return to the level of investment seen prior to the collapse of the global technology market. Third quarter investment activity declined 20 per cent in Euros and 25 per cent in deals from the second quarter of the year, with a total of E616m invested in 191 transactions, according to the Ernst & Young/VentureOne Global Venture Capital Survey.