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Oxford Technology & Innovations EIS Fund (OTIF) invests $1.4 million into University of Oxford spinout company SpyBiotech Ltd

  • SpyBiotech Ltd is developing a novel “plug and play” vaccine platform technology targeting infectious diseases, cancer and chronic diseases.
  • OTIF’s investment was advised by Oxford Investment Consultants LLP and was part of a $32.5m round led by Braavos Investment Advisers.
  • Lutz B. Giebel joins as Chair, strengthening governance as company expands clinical development and builds operational resource.

SpyBiotech, a British biotechnology company with a novel vaccine platform technology targeting infectious diseases, cancer and chronic diseases, today announces it has raised $32.5 million in Series A equity financing and appointed Lutz B. Giebel as Chairman.

The round was led by new investor Braavos Investment Advisers and joined by new investor Oxford Investment Consultants. Founding investors Oxford Sciences Innovation and GV also participated, alongside the UK Government’s Future Fund, converting a prior convertible loan into equity.

Proceeds will advance the clinical development of SpyBiotech’s novel vaccine technology platform, based on its proprietary SpyCatcher/SpyTag protein “superglue” technology. SpyBiotech plans to begin a Phase I clinical study of its internal lead candidate, targeting human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), in early 2022.

The company believes the platform technology has broad applicability across a number of other infectious diseases, and in a range of other areas, such as oncology, which it also plans to explore in clinical development.

SpyBiotech will now build out the required scientific and operational resources. The appointment of Lutz B. Giebel as Chairman of the Board is the first step on this journey, providing strengthened governance and oversight as the company expands.

Lutz has significant operational, governance and investment experience gained over the course of a 30 plus year career in biopharma in the US. He has served on the Boards of 16 biopharma companies and held several executive positions, including Managing Partner at SV Life Sciences, an international healthcare focused venture capital firm, based in San Francisco. SpyBiotech further strengthens its Board through the appointment of Andre Crawford-Brunt, General Partner, Braavos Investment Advisers.

These developments follow a pivotal year for SpyBiotech, which in September 2020 signed an exclusive global licensing agreement with the Serum Institute of India (SII) for the development of a novel virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine targeting COVID-19. The vaccine candidate uses the SpyCatcher/SpyTag protein “superglue” technology to display the coronavirus spike protein on the surface of Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) VLPs. SII, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, initiated clinical trials of the RBD vaccine candidate in September 2020, providing initial clinical validation for SpyBiotech’s platform technology.

The Series A round brings SpyBiotech’s total funding since its spinout in 2017 from the University of Oxford, in collaboration with Oxford University Innovation, to $39 million.

Lutz B. Giebel, Chair, SpyBiotech, said:
“I’ve been involved with many biopharma companies over the course of my career but this is one of the most exciting ones I have encountered. SpyBiotech has a unique platform technology based on decades of vaccine scientific excellence. The COVID-19 vaccine development programme has shifted the company into an accelerated phase of development. I’m looking forward to supporting Sumi and the team and working with our incoming and existing investors to move this exciting vaccine platform through clinical development.”

Professor Sumi Biswas, Chief Executive Officer and co-Founder of SpyBiotech, commented:
“SpyBiotech is delighted to welcome our new investors and Chairman. Braavos and OIC complement our existing register of supportive and sophisticated investors and Lutz Giebel brings years of governance experience and expertise. These developments position us well as we accelerate our clinical development programme.”

Andre Crawford-Brunt, General Partner, Braavos Investment Advisers, commented:
“SpyBiotech is built on decades of ground-breaking vaccine research. The potential of its platform technology offers significant scope to tackle some of the biggest challenges in medicine. Braavos Investment Advisers is thrilled to be on board as the company reaches a critical inflection point in its clinical development plans and we are delighted that Lutz Giebel will support with governance.”

Dr Jane Smit, Oxford Investment Consultants, said:
“We are thrilled to invest in SpyBiotech. The founders’ Jenner Institute vaccinology pedigree, together with their commitment to develop safe, low-cost, rapid deployment vaccines for unmet needs makes this a compelling investment.”

James Wong, Principal, Oxford Sciences Innovation and Board Member, SpyBiotech, said:
“We are proud to have invested in SpyBiotech since its inception, backing a mission-driven team from the University of Oxford focused on developing safe and effective vaccines that address global unmet medical needs. We’re delighted to have worked with GV to support Sumi and the team to attract a high-quality investor syndicate led by Braavos and an experienced Chair in Lutz.”