And when corporations perceive public market mis-valuation they can step in while most universities remain bystanders.

After a rough few years, it is a sign of investor caution that even during a market allowing 40 biotech companies to float on US stock exchanges so far this year, a start-up will look to limit its return by agreeing a buyout option to a pharmaceutical company. But a look through the planned and successful US biotech initial public offerings this year, prompted by research by news provider Fierce Biotech, shows the corporate angle is vital.

Sideris Pharmaceuticals spun out earlier this year with a license from the University of Florida on research indicating how to reduce a body’s iron levels. Novartis has the right to acquire this potential treatment, SP-420, in a deal that could be worth up to $300m.

With such an option in place, venture capital firms MPM Capital, Hatteras Venture Partners and Osage University Partners, which specialises in academic spin-outs, have invested $32m in Sideris’ series A round. The money will help the portfolio company run the tests on SP-420 to see if it works in practice.

If so, Novartis can buy the treatment, complete regulatory approval and roll it out through its sales channel.

If not, that is the risk on a potential 10-times return.

The deal struck, therefore, is a reflection of the sophistication in life science investing to build in corporate support based on a large enough total available market. And almost all the 40 biotech IPOs to have got away this year have had corporate venturing backing – see snapshot from our database below using a list of IPOs generated by Fierce Biotech – with Celgene and Pfizer among notable teams to have scored more than flotation.

And when corporations perceive public market mis-valuation they can step in.

AstraZeneca post-flotation agreed to buy biotech Omthera for $323m, or $12.70 a share so above the listing value, along with up to $120m in contingent value rights.

But looking at the list of potential and planned IPOs, relatively few universities appear likely to share in the success with immediate financial rewards. While it is unclear how long the latest window for biotech IPOS will remain open, it will be interesting to run a similar comparison in a few years to see how this changes as universities increasingly start to focus on reaping rewards from their faculty and students’ ideas.

Biotech IPO list: 

Acceleron Pharma

Based: Cambridge, MA
Stock symbol: XLRN
Range: $13 to $15
IPO price: $15.00
Close Oct. 17: $22.05
Change: Up 47%
Raised: $93m

Corporate Backers: Celgene

Agios Pharmaceuticals

Based: Cambridge, MA
Stock symbol: AGIO
Range: $14 to $16
IPO price: $18
Close Oct. 17: $28.40
Change: Up 58%
Raised: $122m

Corporate Backers: Celgene

Alcobra Pharma

Based: New York
Symbol: ADHD
Range: $10 to $12
IPO price: $8
Close Oct. 17: $19.29
Change: Up 141%
Raised: $25m

Corporate Backers: Teva

Ambit Biosciences

Based: San Diego
Symbol: AMBI
Range: $13 to $15
IPO price: $8
Close Oct. 17: $17.94
Change: Up 124%
Raised: $65m

Corporate Backers: MedImmune, Roche, Genechem

Aratana Therapeutics

Based: Kansas City, KS
Stock symbol: PETX
Range: $11 to $13
IPO price: $6.00
Close Oct. 17: $28.07
Change: Up 367%
Raised: $39.6m

Corporate Backers: RaQualia Pharma

Bind Therapeutics

Based: Cambridge, MA
Stock symbol: BIND
Range: $14 to $16
IPO price: $15.00
Close Oct. 17: $15.00
Change: O%
Raised: $70.5m

Backers: venture capital firms Polaris Venture Partners, Flagship Ventures, Arch Venture Partners, NanoDimension, DHK Investments (David Koch’s family office), Endeavour Vision and Russia- state-backed RUSNANO


Bluebird Bio (formerly Genetix Pharmaceuticals)

Based: Cambridge, MA
Stock symbol: BLUE
Range: $14 to $16
IPO price: $17
Close Oct. 17: $24.11
Change: Up 42%
Raised: $116m

Corporate Backers: Shire, Genzyme


Cancer Genetics

Based: Rutherford, NJ
Stock symbol: CGIX
Range: $10 to $12
IPO price: $10
Close Oct. 17: $16.69
Change: Up 67%
Raised: $7m

Corporate partner: Mayo Clinic

Cardio3 BioSciences

Based: Mont-Saint-Guibert, Belgium
Stock symbol: CARD
Range: €16.65 ($21.50) to €19
IPO Price: €16.65 ($21.50)
Close Oct. 17: €14.09
Change: Down 15%
Raised: $29.7m

Corporate backer: Grifols

Cellular Dynamics

Based: Madison, WI
Stock symbol: ICEL
Range: $12 to $14
IPO price: $12
Close Oct. 17: $17.30
Change: Up 44%
Raised: $46m

Backers: Tactics II Stem Cell Ventures, a venture capital firm set up by Robert and Thomas Palay after they sold NimbleGen Systems to Switzerland-based drugs company Roche in August 2007 for $272.5m, property developer Sam Zell’s Equity Group Investments, Sixth Floor Investors and G Force Investments



Based: Durham, NC
Stock symbol: CMRX
Range: $13 to $15
IPO price: $14
Close Oct. 17: $17
Change: Up 21%
Raised: $118m

Backers: Merck, government and venture capital firms Alta Partners, Asset Management Company, Canaan Partners, Frazier Healthcare Ventures, Morningside Group, New Leaf Venture Partners, Pappas Ventures, and Sanderling Ventures


Conatus Pharmaceuticals

Based: San Diego
Stock symbol: CNAT
Range: $10 to $12
IPO price: $11
Close Oct. 17: $9.94
Change: Down 9%
Raised: $66m

Corporate backers: Roche


Enanta Pharmaceuticals

Based: Watertown, MA
Stock symbol: ENTA
Range: $14 to $16
IPO price: $14
Close Oct. 17: $20.66
Change: Up 47%
Raised: $65m

Corporate backers: Shionogi, Abbott Labs


Epizyme – see previous Big Deal analysis

Based: Cambridge, MA
Stock symbol: EPZM
Range: $13 to $15
IPO price: $15
Close Oct. 17: $36.90
Change: Up 146%
Raised: $80m

Corporate backer: Celgene

Evoke Pharma

Based: San Diego
Stock symbol: EVOK
Range: $12 to $14
IPO price: $12.00
Close Oct. 17: $12.72
Change: Up 6%
Raised: $25m

Backers: venture firms Domain Associates, Latterell Venture Partners, and Windamere Venture Partners


Esperion Therapeutics

Based: Plymouth, MI
Stock symbol: ESPR
Range: $13 to $15
IPO price: $14.00
Close Oct. 17: $17.35
Change: Up 24%
Raised: $73m

Backers: VC firms Longitude Capital, Aisling Capital, Alta Partners, Domain Associates, Arboretum Ventures and Asset Management



Based: La Jolla, CA
Stock symbol: FATE
Range: $14 to $16
IPO price: $6.00
Close Oct. 17: $7.03
Change: Up 17%
Raised: $40m

Corporate backers: Takeda Ventures, Astellas Venture Management, Genzyme Ventures and a fourth, unnamed corporate venturing group.


FivePrime Therapeutics

Based: San Diego
Stock symbol: FPRX
Range: $12 to $14
IPO price: $13.00
Close Oct. 17: $13.57
Change: Up 4%
Raised: $62m

Corporate backers: Pfizer

Foundation Medicine

Based: Cambridge, MA
Stock symbol: FMI
Range: $14 to $16
IPO price: $18.00
Close Oct. 17: $34.88
Change: Up 93%
Raised: $106m

Backers: corporate: Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings, Roche Venture Fund and WuXi Corporate Venture Fund, Google Ventures, venture capital firms Third Rock Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Angels: Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft Corporation, Yuri Milner, founder of Digital Sky Technology, Evan Jones, co-founder of Digene Corp.; public crossover funds Deerfield Management Company, L.P., Casdin Capital and Redmile Group.

Heat Biologics

Based: Chapel Hill, NC
Stock symbol: HTBX
Range: $10 to $12
IPO price: $10
Close Oct. 17: $10.83
Change: Up 8%
Raised: $25m

University backer in 2008: The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and (UM Innovations) Seed-One Ventures

Insys Therapeutics

Based: Chandler, AZ
Stock symbol: INSY
Range: $8 to $10
IPO price: $8
Close Oct. 17: $42.30
Change: Up 428%
Raised: $37m

Backer: angel John Kapoor



Based: Blacksburg, VA
Stock symbol: XON
Range: $14 to $16
IPO price: $16
Closed Oct. 17: $23.19
Change: Up 45%
Raised: $184m

Corporate backers: BlueCross’ Sandbox Industries

KaloBios Pharmaceuticals

Based: South San Francisco
Stock symbol: KBIO
Range: $12 to $14
IPO price: $8.00
Close Oct. 17: $4.49
Change: Down 43%
Raised: $70m

Corporate backer: Mitsubishi



Based: Israel
Stock symbol: KMDA
Range: $13 to $15
IPO price: $9.25
Close Oct. 17: $16.34
Change: Up 76%
Raised: $52m

Debt from Hercules



Based: Raleigh, NC
Stock symbol: LPDX
Range: $13 to $15
IPO price: $9
Close Oct. 17: $5.00
Change: Down 45%
Raised: $45m

Corporate backers: GE and Agilent Technologies



Based: Rockville, MD
Stock symbol: MGNX
Range: $14 to $16
IPO price: $16
Close Oct. 17: $25.17
Change: Up 57%
Raised: $80m

In September 2008, MacroGenics, a US-based biotechnology company targeting autoimmune disorders, cancer and infectious diseases, raised $25m in its series D-2 round, led by Nextech Venture, included additional new investors Arcus Ventures, Innovis Investments and Eli Lilly and Company.  Also participating in the financing were existing investors Alexandria Real Estate, Alta Partners, CIDC, InterWest Partners, Mitsubishi UFJ, OrbiMed Advisors, Red Abbey Venture Partners, RiverVest, Texas Pacific Group Ventures and Ventures West.


NanoString Technologies

Based: Seattle
Stock symbol: NSTG
Range: $13 to $15
IPO price: $10
Close Oct. 17: $10.89
Change: Up 9%
Raised: $54m

Corporate backers: GE and Morgan Stanley


Based: Princeton, NJ
Stock symbol: OMTH
Range: $12 to $14
IPO price: $8
Close Oct. 17: NA
Change: NA
Raised: $64m

Corporate note: AstraZeneca post-flotation agreed to buy the biotech for $323m –$12.70 a share–along with up to $120m in contingent value rights, after VC backing from Sofinnova Partners and NEA.

OncoMed Pharmaceuticals

Based: Redwood City, CA
Stock symbol: O
Range: $14 to $16
IPO price: $17
Close Oct. 17: $14.56
Change: Down 14%
Raised: $93.5m

University backing: a spin-out of the University of Michigan and OncoMed has partnerships with pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKiline and Bayer Healthcare, with backing from Phase4.

Onconova Therapeutics

Based: Newtown, PA
Stock symbol: ONTX
Range: $12 to $14
IPO price: $15
Close Oct. 17: $21.75
Change: Up 45%
Raised: $80m

Backers: Cadila Healthcare, and venture capital firms ICICI Ventures (part of Indian financial services group ICICI), Starec and Naftali, Tinicum Partners and Mehta Partners. Last summer, Baxter stepped up with a $50m upfront payment to snag the European rights to the drug, a multikinase inhibitor targeting mitotic and PI-3 kinase pathways.


Based: New York
Stock symbol: OPHT
Range: $14 to $16
IPO price: $22.00
Close Oct. 17: $28.75
Change: Up 30%
Raised: $167m

Corporate backer: Novo A/ led a $50m venture round and inking a $125m royalty deal on the developer’s Phase III-ready drug Fovista, which is designed to treat wet, age-related macular degeneration.

Portola Pharmaceuticals

Based: South San Francisco
Stock symbol: PTLA
Range: $13 to $16
IPO price: $14.50
Close Oct. 17: $23.84
Change: Up 64%
Raised: $141m

Corporate backer: Biogen Idec has invested $45m in pharmaceuticals company Portola as part of a commercialisation agreement that could eventually be worth more than $500m.



Based: Leiden, The Netherlands
Stock symbol: RNA
Range: $11 to $13
IPO price: $13
Close Oct. 17: $4.41
Change: Down 66%
Raised: $89m

Venture Capitalists


PTC Therapeutics

Based: South Plainfield, NJ
Stock symbol: PTCT
Range: $13 to $16
IPO price: $15.00
Close Oct. 17: $19.47
Change: Up 29%
Raised: $144m

Corporate backers: Celgene and Credit Suisse


Regado Biosciences

Based: Basking Ridge, NJ
Stock symbol: RGDO
Range: $14 to $16
IPO price: $4
Close Oct. 17: $5.66
Change: Up 41%
Raised: $43m

Corporate and government backers: RusnanoMedInvest and Baxter Ventures



Based: San Diego
Stock symbol: RCPT
Range: $14 to $16
IPO price: $14
Close Oct. 17: $33.13
Change: Up 136%
Raised: $72.8m

Corporate backers: Eli Lilly and BASF

Stemline Therapeutics

Based: New York, NY
Stock symbol: STML
Range: $10-$12
IPO price: $10
Close Oct. 17: $37.99
Change: Up 279%
Raised: $38m

Backer: Pequot Capital Management


Sophiris Bio (formerly Protox Therapeutics)

Based: La Jolla, CA
Stock symbol: SPHS
Range: $13
IPO price: $5
Close Oct 17: $4.50
Change: Down 10%
Raised: $65m

Backer: Warburg Pincus

Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals

Based: Watertown, MA
Stock symbol: TTPH
Range: $10 to $12
IPO price: $7.00
Close Oct. 17: $11.15
Change: Up 60%
Raised: $80m

Corporate backer: Fidelity

And here’s a list of the biotechs that are lining up to go public.

Aerie: Target – $84.5m. 

Backers: Alta Partners, Clarus Ventures, Osage Ventures, Sofinnova Ventures and TPG Biotech.

Biocept: Target – $23m.,

Backers: Goodman (5.6%) and angel Claire Reiss (owner of Reisung Enterprises)

CardioDx: Target – $86m

Backers: Intel, Temasek, Longitude Capital, Acadia Woods Partners, Artiman Ventures, investment bank JP Morgan, and Bright Capital, the corporate venturing unit of Russia-based industrial conglomerate Ru-Com Group

Celladon: Target – $86m. 

Corporate backers: Pfizer, Novartis and Johnson & Johnson. 

Egalet Therapeutics: Target – $69m. 

Backers: CLS Capital, Atlas Venture, Omega Funds, Sunstone Capital and Index Ventures (backed by J&J and GSK)

GlycoMimetics : Target – $86m.

Corporate backer: Genzyme Ventures, Alliance Technology Ventures, Anthem Capital, PTV Sciences, New Enterprise Associates and the State of Maryland. Pfizer paid $22.5m upfront to partner with the developer, promising $115m in development milestones, $70m in regulatory milestones and up to $135m for hitting certain commercial goals. 

Karyopharm : Target – $80m. 

Backers: family office Chione, VC firm Delphi, others

Oxford Immunotec Global: Target – $86m. 

Backers: Dow Chemical, Kaiser Permanente Ventures, University of Oxford, which spun off the company University-focused Imperial Innovations,  Invesco Perpetual, Clarus, New Leaf, DFJ Espirit, Wellington, Spark Ventures.

Relypsa : Target – $138 milllion. 

Venture backers: OrbiMed Advisors, 5AM Ventures, New Leaf Venture Partners, Sprout Group, Delphi Ventures and Mediphase Venture Partners, Sibling Capital

Ruthigen: Target – $27m. 

Backers: Management

TetraLogic: Target – $103.5m.

Corporate backers: Amgen and Pfizer

Trevena : Target – $86m.

Corporate backer: Forest


Veracyte : Target – $81m. 

Corporate backer: GE


Vital Therapies: Target – $86m.

Venture backers: Delphi Ventures, DFJ DragonFund China, HBM BioMed China, Heights Capital Management, MedVenture Associates, Toucan Capital, Valley Ventures and Versant Ventures


Xencor: Target – $69m

In  October 2006, Xencor, a US-based company developing protein and antibody therapeutics, raised $45m from a consortium led by MedImmune Ventures, and including Novo Nordisk and HealthCare Ventures as well as existing investor Zen Investments.