Blog: Illumina and Epidarex Capital invest in post-Brexit UK – European Biotechnology News

Illumina has opened its first accelerator outside the US in Cambridge to fund genomics start-ups. Meanwhile, Epidarex Capital has raised £102m for UK biotechs.

Epidarex Capital’s (Edinburgh) oversubscribed £102m UK life sciences VC fund was backed by a £50m investment from the British Business Bank, who is set to take over the former role of the European Investment Bank (EIB) in early-stage financing of the post-Brexit UK life sciences ecosystem. Epidarex Capital III UK LP will provide 12 to 15 new spin-outs from emerging research hubs across the UK with £2m to £5m each.

The British Business  Bank’s investment in Epidarex Capital III UK makes it the largest Enterprise Capital Funds (ECF) to date, and the first to specialise in life sciences. The Universities of Edinburgh, Manchester, Glasgow and Aberdeen, alongside Strathclyde Pension Fund and several global investors have committed capital to the new fund. According to Sinclair Dunlop, Managing, Partner at Epidarex, the transatlantic VC specialist “can now significantly expand and support its portfolio of UK life science start-ups with the potential to both transform patient outcomes and generate competitive investor returns”.

The Fund’s first investment founded Lunac Therapeutics, a spinout from the University of Leeds, which received £2.65m in a Series A financing round. Lunac is developing next-generation anticoagulants to minimise bleeding risk. „The Bank’s Enterprise Capital Funds programme is a key tool in helping to develop and maintain an effective venture capital provision in the UK,” said Ken Cooper, Managing Director, Venture Capital Solutions at the British Business Bank. By supporting Epidarex Capital III UK, we are looking to ensure the successful financing of early stage, high-potential businesses that are built upon cutting-edge UK life science research.”

An additional committment to the UK life sciences sector was made by next-generation sequencing (NGS) leader Illumina Inc, which announced the first three investments of its genomics accelerator outside the US, at Cambridge, UK, today.

Three UK-based genomics startups were selected to get seed investment and access to Illumina sequencing systems and reagents, as well as business guidance, genomics expertise, and fully operational lab space adjacent to Illumina’s campus in Cambridge, UK:

  • Alchemab Therapeutics Ltd (, an antibody therapeutics company from London, UK, is harnessing the naturally protective power of patient antibodies to keep people free from hard-to-treat disease such as COVID-19 in a unique approach to drug discovery and development.
  • Neurolytic Healthcare Ltd (Neurolytic Healthcare Ltd), a diagnostics company from Oxford, UK, is focused on delivering digital, genomics-driven diagnostics and personalized treatment recommendations for neurological conditions, and
  • Tailor Bio Ltd (, an oncology diagnostics company spun out of Cancer Research UK-funded research, is developing a proprietary precision oncology platform to identify patterns in tumour DNA to predict a patient’s response to cancer drugs.

“As we navigate the current global pandemic, there is an even stronger urgency to create breakthrough genomics startups that will transform human health and beyond,” commented Amanda Cashin (, co-founder and Global Head of Illumina Accelerator. “By opening our second location and partnering with seed stage capital investors, we are proud to invest in these transformative startups to push the boundaries of where genomics can go.”

Illumina Accelerator has partnered with First In Ventures to provide convertible notes for the incoming startups in the U.S. and UK. Wing Venture Capital will continue their support in providing convertible notes in the U.S., and Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority will support the companies in the UK. “We believe the startups selected have great potential to expand the genomics ecosystem and deliver new and important applications to market,” said Paula Dowdy (, Illumina’s Senior Vice President and General Manager, Europe, Middle East and Africa. “The UK is a leader in genomics research, and we’re delighted to locate the extension of Illumina Accelerator at our new campus in Cambridge.”

The next global funding cycle, in which Illumina Accelerator will select up to five companies in each location,  is due by August 1, 2020.

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