Mikey Tom October 28, 2016
This year has brought a flurry of large VC deals in the healthcare sector—part of the 616 overall financings in the space so far in 2016, according to the PitchBook Platform. Within just the past two months, Moderna Therapeutics has secured $474 million toward a planned $600 million financing, Zymergen raised a $130 million round and Carrick Therapeutics snagged a $95 million investment. Now, you can add another name to the list.
UNITY Biotechnology, a company working to increase lifespan by preventing, halting or reversing diseases of aging, announced Thursday the close of a $116 million Series B financing from firms including ARCH Venture Partners, Baillie Gifford and Bezos Expeditions (the investment vehicle of Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos). UNITY also unveiled Keith Leonard, a 25-year biotech industry veteran, as the company's new CEO. Leonard most recently was CEO at KYTHERA Biopharmaceuticals, a company he co-founded and ran until it was acquired by Allergan for $2.1 billion in late 2015.
The dollar figures on some of these recent deals are eyebrow-raising—and so are the names doing the investing. Bezos has been an active investor in the healthcare space in addition to this most recent UNITY funding, previously pumping cash into Juno Therapeutics (NASDAQ: JUNO), a developer of immunotherapies to treat cancer, and participating in a $125 million round in January for Grail, a cancer-testing startup.
Although he may not be the most popular figure nowadays, Peter Thiel has also invested millions in a variety of different healthcare companies—some of which, like UNITY, are pursuing ways to elongate the human life. Bill Gates is also active in the space, investing in Grail earlier this year alongside Bezos and backing other companies like Nimbus Therapeutics and Editas Medicine.
Here's a selection of healthcare startups that raised large VC rounds this year, along with some of the investors: