UK-based start-up PetMedix has highlighted the resilience of the companion animal health space by capturing equity investment from a local backer.
AnimalPharm article by Joseph Harvey | @JHJournalist | firstname.lastname@example.org
The firm gained funding from Cambridge Innovation Capital – an investor focused on technology and life science businesses in the Cambridge ecosystem.
PetMedix will use the investment to further advance its therapeutic antibody technology platform for companion animals, as well as to expand and progress its pipeline.
The start-up is developing species-specific, naturally generated therapeutic antibodies. To build PetMedix's platforms, the antibody genes of dogs or cats are put into the mouse genome in place of mouse antibody genes. The mouse then expresses antibodies that fully match the companion animal.
With drug discovery underway, the firm will also use its new funds to help conduct its first in-dog studies of its lead candidates.
The ability to raise nancing during challenging times of a global pandemic demonstrates investor belief in the company and further evidence of the excellent progress the company has made in creating innovative antibodies against a range of important conditions.
While the amount of investment has not been disclosed, it builds on PetMedix's previous fundraising exploits. At the beginning of 2019, the firm secured £8 million ($9.7 million) in a series A round.
While Animal Pharm's Funding Database has tracked a low amount of early-stage deals in 2020 compared to previous years, animal health-focused investors recently said they are still searching for funding opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the investment firms that spoke to Animal Pharm was Digitalis Ventures' Companion Fund, which participated in PetMedix's series A.
Funding is the lifeblood of start-ups and PetMedix's ability to secure backing at a time of global crisis should bring hope to many young animal health companies. In the food animal space, funding success stories during lockdown include US start-up SwineTech.
New facility and international aspirations
PetMedix has doubled in size over the last year in terms of its workforce. Among its new hires was David Lowery, who became the firm's chief product development officer.
PetMedix has also moved into purpose-built facilities in Cambridge. The 12,000-square-foot site on the Babraham Research Campus is larger than the firm's old laboratory and provides it with additional office space.
The company stated: "In spite of the current circumstances, and while ensuring full safety and wellbeing of all staff in keeping with government recommendations, the move was successfully completed in one day and as originally planned. The company is looking for tenants to sub-let space in this prime Silicon Fen location."
All functional equipment that was not moved to the new site has been donated to the UK's National Health Service for use in COVID-19 research. This includes four laminar flow cabinets suitable for tissue culture.
In addition, PetMedix has started to recruit its first employees abroad – part of its new US subsidiary. The company told Animal Pharm its first territory for product registration will be the US.
"PetMedix has global ambitions and aims to work with international partners as a high priority," the firm explained. "These changes will form the basis of PetMedix's transformation from biotechnology start-up to clinical-stage therapeutics company over the next few years."