26 Jan BioTech spinout case study: how specialist early-stage investment support accelerated Kinomica from seed to oversubscribed £3.9m series A.
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Jan 26, 2021
Founders David Britton and Pedro Cutillas set out to pioneer a new approach of cell signalling at the proteomic level. Based on the ground-breaking research by Professor Cutillas as published by Nature, with a new proteomic approach, Kinomica’s KScanTM technology can monitor drug efficiency and response, elucidate mode of action and mechanisms of resistance to drugs, and allow predictive patient population biomarker stratification in clinical trials. An idea whose potential to disrupt the status quo is similar to that of next-generation sequencing vs one-at-a-time PCR reactions.
When BioCity first met the founders in 2018 at the Innovate UK Precision Medicine Investment Accelerator, the company was based within the Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London and were exploring how best to commercialise their technology for maximum impact.
With the potential to complement the genomics approach in diagnostic development, Claire Brown, Director of Investment at BioCity, identified Kinomica as the perfect fit for BioCity’s growing portfolio of early-stage life science ventures.
“It was clear to see that Kinomica is at the forefront of a new area. While genomic approaches have been successful in allowing the stratifying of patients, increasingly, understanding the molecular ‘re-wiring’ of tumours, such as that provided by KScanTM, is critical. We worked closely with the founders helping them develop the vision of a commercial and scalable venture. That was essential to make them an attractive early-stage investment”, Claire Brown.
Co-founder, Britton, worked closely with BioCity coaches on the BioCity Accelerator to refine the offering of an early-stage precision medicine biotech developing novel technologies for companion diagnostics (CDx) and therapeutic development in precision medicines.
“Some of David’s ‘homework’ from the Accelerator was used to re-write the business proposal and slide decks used in pitching the first funding round,” says Jane Theaker, who joined CEO of Kinomica in August 2019.
“I had been working as a consultant with BioCity, providing due diligence assessments. When Claire asked me to review a new company called Kinomica, I was astounded at the potential impact of their work; which only increased as more and more evidence of validation and commercial traction was released. Claire was aware of my work with DxS, and we have worked together on many projects, her recommending me as CEO could not have been more welcome, in all honestly, I jumped at the chance to play a part in this pioneering new technology.”
In July 2019 Kinomica successfully completed seed investment of almost £1M, grant match-funding from the Innovate UK Precision Medicine Investment Accelerator, BioCity and angels from BioCity’s network.
“Without the investment from BioCity, the round could not have been completed,” says Theaker, “as a match-funded round we needed to secure private investment ourselves. Their financial contribution was of course, essential, but additionally, the endorsement from the highly experienced BioCity team encouraged a potential investor who had been undecided about whether to come aboard”.
The funds, totalling nearly £1m allowed Kinomica to recruit the team for the first Midostaurin trial, and to begin driving business development within the industry. Following the investment, Claire Brown joined the Kinomica Board, providing ongoing support and guidance.
“Claire has always taken an active role. Both on the practical levels of managing shareholder relationships and communications, allowing us to focus on developing the business, but also as a sounding board for support and guidance, and at times, reassurance as we encountered the inevitable challenges growing businesses face.
“Even down to the micro-moments of which networking events or industry showcases to attend, to or how to ‘play it’ with VCs, the specialist expertise Claire has in the area of early-stage investment has been invaluable,” says Theaker.
During this crucial year, the BioCity Investment team maintained a close working relationship and a holistic approach to support, identifying the key drivers to support Kinomica’s continual growth and preparing for future funding rounds. Notably, introducing Kinomica to three individuals who would prove pivotal in the development of the business. David Whitcombe as mentor, a serial DX expert and member of the BioCity Expert Network, Marie Roskow, inaugural Chairman of the Board and Margaret Scott as consultant financial advisor providing financial support both in 2019 and 2020.
“The old adage that it takes a village to raise a child is just as true for growing a business,” quips Theaker. “For small ventures like ours, every team members’ contribution is crucial. You are already battling high risks and high pressures trying to keep everything going; you really need the right people to drive the business forward. And after working together so closely together, Claire understood what, and who we needed to progress to the next level“.
“VCs back people. Credible founders and dream teams are always the first things potential investors look at. In David and Pedro, we had the unparalleled scientific expertise, to complete our team, we needed pragmatic, ‘can-do’ people. In Margaret and Marie, we found the individuals who shared our vision and passion, who have the skills and expertise, but also have that ‘get stuck in mentality’. Recognising these qualities can only be achieved by understanding both what the business needs and how the existing team works.”
Kinomica’s subsequent success, in Theaker’s’ words, have “exceeded our own expectations“. From their new labs in Alderley Park, Kinomica has since secured multiple contracts with top 20 major pharma and SMEs.
On 14 December, Kinomica announced a Seed round of funding for £3.9 M. In this follow-on round, in which BioCity followed with further investment, the team also provided expert guidance in an area fraught with complexities – investor selection.
“We were in the very privileged position of having multiple potential cornerstone investors. For us, the challenge was finding the best fit, those who share our vision and have complementary skills in areas we don’t.”
This round, which marks a significant milestone for Kinomica was completed by the British Growth Fund, Longwall Venture Partners LLP, Alderley Park Ventures, and Puffin Point, in whom Kinomica found the shared vision and the expertise they need as they progress towards to next stage of the company’s evolution.
“This investment will greatly help us move towards the long-term goal of creating a companion diagnostic. The funds will support our growth as we plan to recruit a further 14 staff and two additional consultants by June 2021, set up a GLP and a diagnostics lab, to achieve our vision of developing companion diagnostics within the next two years.”