Cambridge spin-out Carrick Therapeutics raises $95 million in funding, representing the largest-ever early stage investment in a UK university spin-out company. 

This investment and in particular the scale of the investment marks a real turning point for investments in Cambridge spin-out companies.

Bradley Hardiman

Carrick Therapeutics Ltd, a company which is developing new treatments for the most aggressive and resistant forms of cancer, launched today having secured $95 million in funding, representing the largest early-stage investment in a UK university spin-out.

The company, which has licensed technology developed at the Gurdon Institute at the University of Cambridge, brings together cancer researchers and drug development experts, backed by leading providers of early stage funding, with the aim of building Europe’s leading oncology company.

Carrick Therapeutics has research and development teams located in Dublin and Oxford. The $95 million funding round was led by ARCH Venture Partners and Woodford Investment Management with participation from Cambridge Enterprise Seed Funds, Cambridge Innovation Capital, Evotec AG, GV (Google Ventures) and Lightstone Ventures.

The first technology licensed by the company was developed at the Gurdon Institute and was licensed by Cambridge Enterprise, the University’s technology transfer arm. Carrick received seed funding in 2015 from ARCH Venture Partners and Cambridge Enterprise Seed Funds.

“This investment and in particular the scale of the investment marks a real turning point for investments in Cambridge spin-out companies,” said Bradley Hardiman, Investment Manager for Cambridge Enterprise Seed Funds. “In the past, particularly in Europe, investors have been guilty of drip-feeding money in to companies. This means that companies could be continuously fundraising, distracting them from the critical task of advancing treatments. This ‘war chest’ of funding will enable Carrick to get on with the important work of researching and developing new cancer treatments, making real differences to sufferers of this debilitating disease.”

The company’s vision is to target the molecular pathways that drive the most aggressive and resistant forms of cancer. While other companies are often reliant on a single compound or biological mechanism, Carrick Therapeutics is building a portfolio of treatments that are progressed through understanding the mechanisms that cause cancer and resistance, and are tailored to an individual patient’s tumour.

By linking a network of clinicians and scientists in internationally leading research institutes and hospitals, Carrick will move its portfolio of ground-breaking cancer therapies from laboratory to clinic.

“Our aim is to build Europe’s leading oncology company,” said Carrick Chief Executive Dr Elaine Sullivan, a former Vice President for research and development functions at both Eli Lilly and AstraZeneca. “There is a significant unmet need in cancer treatment, and targeting aggressive and resistant disease is an area where we can make a real difference to patients’ lives.”

Carrick Therapeutics is working on three innovative scientific programmes, and is looking to expand its portfolio through academic and pharmaceutical partnerships.

The company’s worldwide network of collaborating cancer experts includes the world’s leading cancer research charity, Cancer Research UK, and researchers from several of the world’s top universities, including Cambridge, Imperial College London and Oxford.

“The quality of the science and assets, combined with the calibre of the management team makes Carrick Therapeutics a powerful proposition,” said Steven Gillis, Managing Partner of ARCH Venture Partners and a member of the board of Carrick Therapeutics. “As an investor and a scientist I look forward to Carrick Therapeutics being a dominant force in the fight against cancer.”

Adapted from a Cambridge Enterprise press release

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