€87m for Emergence in Duisburg

07 Dec 2021

€87m for Emergence in Duisburg

With €87m, Emergence Therapeutics AG receives the second highest Series A financing in the German biotechnology industry to date. The Duisburg-based company is developing novel antibody-drug conjugates (ADC) against cancers that currently have little or no treatment options.

This is the second highest Series A funding in the German biotech sector, with BioNTech continuing to lead this ranking unchallenged with its heavily US-driven Series A from 2018 (over €225m). However, Emergence, founded in 2019, pushes well ahead of Berlin-based T-Knife (€66m) and Essen-based Abalos therapeutics (€43m) which is confirming a trend toward very high initial financing rounds in Germany.

The start-up Emergence Therapeutics was initiated by investors Kurma Partners, NRW.BANK, High-Tech Gründerfonds, Gründerfonds Ruhr and Bpifrance via the InnoBio 2 fund and a grant from a German government's 2 billion-stimulus package and combines the scientific expertise of a cancer researcher from Marseille (France) with experienced biotech managers from Central Europe. The new round had a strong U.S. influence and was led by Pontifax Venture Capital. Further new investors include RA Capital Management, OrbiMed Advisors, Surveyor Capital and Scandinavian Hadean Ventures. The management also participated.

Emergence's lead product, ETx-22, targets the tumor marker nectin-4 as a toxin-linked antibody, which was identified as being a specific marker in several solid tumors by a group of researchers from Marseille. According to the company, ETx-22 has been shown to be selective for tumor-expressed Nectin-4 and has tumor-specific deconjugation. This means it only deconjugates at the intended target site, where it exerts its cell-toxic effect which is expected to result in fewer side effects. ETx-22 will initially be developed for bladder cancer and triple-negative breast cancer, as well as malignancies with intermediate and low nectin-4 expression, including ovarian, head and neck and lung cancers. Proceeds from the funding will also support the development of a pipeline of additional ADC candidates.