Edinburgh’s Epidarex launches £102m life science fund

Sinclair Dunlop

Edinburgh-based life science venture firm Epidarex Capital said on Monday that it has closed its Epidarex Capital III UK LP fund at £102.1 million.

“The fund will build new life science companies based on world-class research and innovation from emerging hubs across the UK, including spinouts from highly regarded universities,” said Epidarex.

Typical initial investments will range from £2 million to £5 million.

“The new fund has been cornerstoned by the British Business Bank via a £50 million commitment from its Enterprise Capital Funds (ECF) programme for early stage venture capital,” said Epidarex.

“The programme combines private and public money to enable equity investments in high-growth businesses, and since its inception it has committed over £1.36 billion (including third-party investment) to facilitate finance to 540 smaller UK high growth businesses.

“The bank’s investment in Epidarex Capital III UK makes it the largest ECF to date, and the first to specialise in life science.”

In addition to the British Business Bank, the universities of Edinburgh, Manchester, Glasgow and Aberdeen, alongside Strathclyde Pension Fund and several global investors have committed capital to the new fund.

With its UK headquarters in Edinburgh and its US base in Bethesda, Maryland, Epidarex is a transatlantic venture firm that creates and invests in early stage, high-potential life science companies in emerging research hubs.

Epidarex said it partners at an early stage with top scientists and entrepreneurs in the UK and the US to develop innovative products addressing major unmet needs in the global healthcare market. 

Epidarex managing partner Sinclair Dunlop said: “We are grateful for the tremendous support from the British Business Bank and from returning investors, which has allowed us to close this significant new UK fund.

“Epidarex’s differentiated approach to life science investing draws from our global network of experts and long-standing relationships with multiple highly regarded universities and research institutions.

“Epidarex can now significantly expand and support its portfolio of UK life science start-ups with the potential to both transform patient outcomes and generate competitive investor returns.”

The fund’s first investment founded Lunac Therapeutics, a spinout from the University of Leeds, which received £2.65 million in a Series A financing round.

Lunac is developing next-generation anticoagulants to minimise bleeding risk and capitalises on a decade of academic research, which was supported by the University. 

The fund expects to announce several further investments in the coming months.  

Ken Cooper, managing director, venture capital solutions at the British Business Bank, said: “We know that equity finance is crucial for innovative life science and health technology businesses.

“The bank’s Enterprise Capital Funds programme is a key tool in helping to develop and maintain an effective venture capital provision in the UK.

“By supporting Epidarex Capital III UK, we are looking to ensure the successful financing of early stage high-potential businesses that are built upon cutting-edge UK life science research.

“We are very pleased to be backing this new UK fund, which itself represents an important milestone as our largest ECF fund to date and the first dedicated to investment in life science.”

UK BioIndustry Association (BIA) CEO Steve Bates said:  “Accessing world class life science venture expertise is key to creating and scaling successful innovative UK life science companies.

“This has been a BIA policy objective for many years, so it’s fantastic to see UK life science industrial strategy in action – further enabling Epidarex to back some of Britain’s most promising life science entrepreneurs.

“Having transatlantic expertise and a base in Edinburgh, gives Epidarex real insight in building new UK life science companies, including beyond the South East of England – an area that has traditionally been under ventured despite the presence of world-leading research and innovation.”

Epidarex managing partner Kyparissia Sirinakis said: “The new fund that we have announced today will enable us to continue towards our goal of creating extraordinary new life science companies on both sides of the Atlantic.

“Based on our expertise and approach I am confident that we can continue to make a meaningful impact on the UK life science ecosystem by helping ambitious entrepreneurs and scientists build high potential companies across the UK.”