Fueling the Next Wave of Life Science Innovations and Pioneering Ventures
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., April 2, 2020 /PRNewswire/ – Flagship Pioneering, a unique life sciences innovation enterprise, today announced that on March 27, it closed a $1.1 billion capital raise for its seventh Origination Fund to support the creation of Human Health and Sustainability companies originated and operating within its Flagship Labs unit. This new capital pool will operate alongside separate Flagship funds totaling $1.08 billion raised in 2019 to support the financial needs of Flagship-originated companies after they spin out from Flagship Labs and enter their growth stage.
“We’re honored to have the strong support of our existing Limited Partners, as well as the interest from a select group of new Limited Partners, to support Flagship’s unique form of company origination during this time of unprecedented economic uncertainty,” said Noubar Afeyan, Ph.D., Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Flagship Pioneering. “During our 2019 Annual Meeting we outlined our strategy for 2020 and beyond. We will continue to use our hypothesis-driven process of pioneering innovation and entrepreneurship to originate disruptive companies in Human Health and Sustainability. We also outlined three new vectors we will pursue over the coming years: the creation of Pioneering Medicines, a new platform to develop disruptive product ideas from existing Flagship Labs companies’ platforms; a deepening focus on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to enable our exploration of previously uncharted spaces of science and technology; and the launching of an initiative focused on Health Security, which is designed to create a range of products and therapies to improve societal health defenses by treating pre-disease states before they escalate. The current COVID-19 crisis deeply underscores the essential need for a comprehensive Health Security initiative to complement our current health care system,” Dr. Afeyan said.
In its 20th year of operation, Flagship is an institutional innovation enterprise comprising a team of 130 members focused on continuously making pioneering innovations as well as founding, launching, and advancing new companies to develop and commercialize these innovations. There are currently 15 wholly owned companies, with a team of over 480 professionals, operating within Flagship’s enterprise. In addition, 26 companies comprise Flagship’s current ecosystem of growth-stage companies with an aggregate workforce of over 4,200. The current ecosystem includes two Flagship-founded companies, Moderna (2015) and Indigo (2019), that were selected as the #1 disruptor’s among CNBC’s Disruptor 50 annual list.
2019 and Early 2020 Flagship Performance
In 2019, Flagship deployed $429 million in capital to its companies, including commitments from Flagship’s two Special Opportunities Funds. Combined with more than $900 million from other capital providers, a total of more than $1.3 billion in new capital fueled Flagship companies during 2019.
The close of the Flagship Pioneering Origination Fund VII follows a strong year of growth for Flagship and its broader ecosystem of companies. Flagship’s team of entrepreneurial scientists, executives, and operations experts, as well as its companies, achieved important milestones last year, as follows:
Flagship made a number of important hires to fuel further growth and expand our capabilities to add value to our companies.
- We hired experienced and accomplished leadership teams into Cellarity, Cygnal, Invaio, Omega, and Repertoire.
- We made significant hires to enhance Flagship’s origination and growth capabilities:
- Lovisa Afzelius, former Senior Vice President of Cogen Therapeutics, as Origination Partner;
- Robert Berendes, former Head of Business Development at Syngenta, as Executive Partner;
- Paul Biondi, former Head of Strategy and Business Development at Bristol-Myers, as Executive Partner;
- Theo Melas-Kyriazi, former CFO at Thermo Fisher, as Executive Partner;
- John Mendlein, former CEO of Adnexus and Chair of Fate Therapeutics and aTyr Pharma, as Executive Partner; and
- Prakash Raman, former Global Head of NIBR Business Development and Licensing, as Senior Partner and Chief Business Development Officer.
Science and Clinical Progress
- Explorations: In 2019, Flagship undertook more than 50 new explorations, the first step of our company origination process.
- Pipeline of innovations: In addition to over 130 therapeutics in preclinical and discovery programs across Flagship’s ecosystem of companies, 55 clinical programs were under way during 2019 and early 2020, including the NIH clinical trial of Moderna’s investigational vaccine mRNA-1273—the first clinical trial for a vaccine targeted at the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
- Patents: Flagship Labs filed 230 patents in 2019.
- NewCos: NewCos are newly formed companies that operate within our Flagship Labs Unit. In 2019, Flagship launched six internally operated companies from Flagship Labs, including Senda Biosciences, Generate Biomedicines, Tessera Therapeutics, and Integral Health. Three other Flagship Pioneering NewCos were announced publicly: Cellarity, Cygnal Therapeutics, and Ring Therapeutics.
- GrowthCos: GrowthCo designation marks the evolution of our companies from NewCo to the final phase in Flagship’'s innovation process. The firm spun out five GrowthCos in 2019: Repertoire Immune Medicines (formerly Cogen), Cygnal Therapeutics, Integral Health, Kintai Therapeutics, and Ohana Biosciences. Sana Biotechnology was formed on the basis of the pioneering work on targeted fusogenic proteins to direct viral gene delivery performed by Flagship’s Cobalt Biomedicine. TARIS Biomedical, in which Flagship was a founding investor, announced in December that it had agreed to be acquired by Johnson & Johnson.
- Public Equity Offerings: Two companies conceived in Flagship Labs completed Initial Public Offerings over the past year: Kaleido Biosciences (February 2019) and Axcella Health (May 2019). Moderna Therapeutics, also founded by Flagship Labs, completed a $575 million follow-on offering (February 2020).
About Flagship Pioneering
Flagship Pioneering conceives, creates, resources, and develops first-in-category life sciences companies to transform human health and sustainability. Since its launch in 2000, the firm has applied a unique hypothesis-driven innovation process to originate and foster more than 100 scientific ventures, resulting in over $34 billion in aggregate value. To date, Flagship is backed by more than $4.4 billion of aggregate capital commitments, of which over $1.9 billion has been deployed toward the founding and growth of its pioneering companies alongside more than $10 billion of follow-on investments from other institutions. The current Flagship ecosystem comprises 41 transformative companies, including Axcella Health (NASDAQ: AXLA), Denali Therapeutics (NASDAQ: DNLI), Evelo Biosciences (NASDAQ: EVLO), Foghorn Therapeutics, Indigo Ag, Kaleido Biosciences (NASDAQ: KLDO), Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA), Rubius Therapeutics (NASDAQ: RUBY), Sana Biotechnology, Seres Therapeutics (NASDAQ: MCRB), and Syros Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: SYRS).