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The Vulpes Life Sciences Fund aims to invest in UK-based Life Science companies. British Biotech investment has been a cornerstone of our portfolio for a decade, and has proven immensely successful. We look for companies with unique, world-class science and multi-use technology. We believe many of these companies to be to be severely underfunded, especially in 2022.
The UK’s so-called ‘Golden Triangle’ of Cambridge, London, and Oxford produces 60% of all biotech research in Britain. The UK produces 29% of European scientific journal publications, and leads the world in publications per billion dollars of GDP. Additionally, the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the UK’s potential to use this wealth of research for practical uses.
In the last 5 years, the FDA has been more open-minded with regards to smaller biotech companies, and has been more flexible in allowing them to get past the double-blind test – particularly for diseases with unmet need and “orphan designations”. In spite of this, valuations are incredibly low for these companies, as Covid-19 delayed crucial human trials. This sector is currently vastly underfunded, something that Vulpes hopes to change.
With a decade of experience investing in UK Biotech companies, and a team of expert scientific advisors, we has proven time and time again we can identify and manage what will ultimately become high-return investments.
We first invested in Oxford Biomedica (OXB) in 2012. The company was very different, being significantly more focused on research than manufacturing. CEO John Dawson was aiming to pivot towards manufacturing, though lacked the capital to do so.
Vulpes saw a great deal of potential in OXB. Martin and Steve Diggle invested £5m, with Martin joining the board of directors. Initially, many believed this to be a foolish and overly-optimistic investment, doomed to failure. At times, OXB was only barely able to keep their head above the water, relying on the capital Vulpes had invested.
Vulpes’ investment and Martin’s guidance helped them successfully pivot to biotech manufacturing – specifically the manufacture of an inert lentivirus to be used in innoculation.
In 2017, Novartis made a deal with OXB – they would be the sole providers of the lentivirus Novartis would use to generate CTL019, a new and experimental kind of leukaemia vaccination.
Since our investment in 2012, the share price of OXB has risen over 400%. Most importantly, the childhood leukaemia treatment OXB helps to produce had an astounding 80% response rate, with 65% of all patients who received the treatment going into complete remission.
We are not the kinds of investors who sit idly by and watch the market. We are always keen to get involved with the companies we invest in, and play an active role in the creation of business strategies to achieve sustainable and commercial success. Martin Diggle was on the board for Oxford Biomedica for nearly a decade, and played a key role in unlocking OXB’s potential.
Our investment policy is always science-led. Before investing we do our due-diligence and co-ordinate with our two scientific advisors. We always search for technologies with multiple potential uses, leading to greater returns in future.
Internal note: Potential new developments for Novartis’ Kymriah could significantly benefit OXB
Vulpes invested in Scancell in 2019. This was nearly three years after we initially identified it as a potential profitable investment. Our scientific advisor thoroughly examined the facilities before informing us the science was not only sound, but incredibly advanced.
Scancell’s cancer immunology technology was their greatest draw. They aimed to target multiple different types of cancer, and showed promise for even greater flexibility beyond that. Their latest project, an alternative Covid-19 vaccine, is further proof of the multi-use technologies produced at Scancell.
Between June 2019 and February 2022, Scancell’s valuation has quadrupled.
Our UK Biotech investments are among our most valuable, both in terms of the returns we reap and the positive impact it has. Through past uncertainties and difficult times, Vulpes has remained passionate about finding and funding life-saving technology, and is eager to see what the future of this industry holds.