Cambridge Enterprise joins largest-ever early stage investment in a UK university spin-out

Carrick Therapeutics Ltd, a unique new venture in cancer treatment, launched today, having secured $95M in funding. It brings together world-class cancer researchers and drug development experts, backed by some of the most eminent providers of early stage capital, with the aim of building Europe’s leading oncology company.

Carrick Therapeutics has research and development teams located in Dublin, Ireland, and Oxford, UK, leveraging important partnerships globally. The $95 million funding round was led by ARCH Venture Partners and Woodford Investment Management with participation from Cambridge Enterprise Seed Funds, Cambridge Innovation Capital, Evotec AG, GV (Google Ventures) and Lightstone Ventures. These investors have impeccable track records of accelerating the development of cutting edge science into new therapies.

Carrick’s first IP acquisition was developed at The Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge,  and was licensed by Cambridge Enterprise. Carrick received seed funding in 2015 from ARCH Venture Partners and Cambridge Enterprise Seed Funds. The current fundraising represents the largest early stage investment in a UK university spin-out.

Carrick Therapeutics has a clear vision for cancer patients: to target the molecular pathways that drive the most aggressive and resistant forms of cancer in order to have a major impact on the lives of patients. Whilst other companies bank on a single compound or biological mechanism, Carrick Therapeutics is building an innovative portfolio of first-in-class treatments that are advanced through understanding the mechanisms that cause cancer and resistance and tailored to an individual patient’s tumour.

By linking a network of clinicians and scientists in internationally leading research institutes and hospitals, Carrick will drive its portfolio of ground-breaking cancer therapies from laboratory to clinic.

Chief Executive of Carrick Therapeutics is Dr. Elaine Sullivan, a former Vice President for research and development functions at both US pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and UK medical leader AstraZeneca. She said:

“This is an exciting new venture in cancer treatment, backed by some of the biggest investors in the field. Our aim is to build Europe’s leading oncology company. There is a significant unmet need in cancer treatment, and targeting aggressive and resistant disease is an area where we can make a real difference to patients’ lives.”

Carrick Therapeutics is working on three innovative scientific programmes, and is looking to expand its portfolio through academic and pharmaceutical partnerships.

The company’s worldwide network of collaborating cancer experts includes the world’s leading cancer research charity, Cancer Research UK, and pioneering researchers from several of the world’s top universities, including Cambridge, Imperial College London and Oxford.

Steven Gillis, Managing Partner of ARCH Venture Partners and a member of the board of Carrick Therapeutics, said:

“The quality of the science and assets, combined with the calibre of the management team makes Carrick Therapeutics a powerful proposition. As an investor and a scientist I look forward to Carrick Therapeutics being a dominant force in the fight against cancer.”

Paul Thurk, Managing Director, Europe, of ARCH Venture Partners and founding board member of Carrick Therapeutics, added:

“Carrick’s world-class team and pioneering work share many of the same extraordinary attributes of other successful oncology companies we’ve helped build.  Except, in this case, we didn’t start with a specific technology, which would be our norm.  We instead started with an exemplary team of industry veterans, investigating hundreds of assets, to find the remarkable mix that now makes up Carrick.”

In conjunction with the funding, Steven Gillis and Paul Thurk, ARCH Venture Partners, and Jason Lettmann, Lightstone Ventures, join CEO Elaine Sullivan on the Carrick board of directors.

Carrick Therapeutics has assembled a team of internationally recognised clinicians and scientists for the company’s scientific advisory board (SAB), which is chaired by Sir John Bell (Regius Professor of Medicine, University of Oxford). The SAB comprises: Prof. Steve Jackson (Cambridge), Prof. Chas Bountra (Oxford), Prof. Johann DeBono (London), Prof. William Gallagher (Dublin), Prof. Peter Johnson (Southampton), Prof. David Kerr (Oxford), Prof. Michael O’Dwyer (Galway), Dr. Anthony Quinn (Boston), and Prof. John Robertson (Nottingham).

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