Cancer Research UK, an independent supporter of cancer research, is aligning with the Wellcome Trust, Syncona and BACIT to create an up to £1 billion company to invest in life sciences, with a significant allocation to oncology, subject to approval from BACIT shareholders.
BACIT, a U.K. listed investment company, will acquire a majority or all of the interest in the Pioneer Fund currently held by Cancer Research UK. BACIT will also acquire Syncona, founded by Wellcome Trust, which owns an existing portfolio of life science investments, many of which are focused on oncology. BACIT will also recruit the investing team of Syncona. In exchange for their holdings, Cancer Research UK and Wellcome Trust will receive new ordinary shares in BACIT.
The Pioneer Fund is a £70 million venture life sciences fund, established by Cancer Research UK and Cancer Research Technology in 2012. The fund’s objective is to bridge the investment gap between cancer drug discovery and early development, by taking potential cancer drugs from discovery through to entry into Phase II clinical trials.
BACIT, which will seek shareholder approval to be renamed Syncona, intends to invest approximately £100 million per year into premium life sciences opportunities, until substantially all of BACIT’s capital is invested in life science investments. At least 25% of BACIT’s life science assets will be committed to oncology projects and businesses.
In the event that BACIT acquires a majority of the interest in the Pioneer Fund, Cancer Research UK has agreed to invest approximately £17 million in new ordinary shares of BACIT, of which £7 million is in respect of its interest in the Pioneer Fund, and the remainder of which is the value of its uncalled commitment to that interest. Once the Pioneer Fund is fully committed or at the end of its investment period, BACIT and Cancer Research UK intend to enter into a pipeline agreement, on terms materially similar to Cancer Research UK’s existing agreement in respect of the Pioneer Fund. Under this arrangement Cancer Research UK would make life science investments available to BACIT on a “first look” basis. It is also expected that the investment managers of the Pioneer Fund will join the Syncona investment team.
To capture the significant value opportunity in UK life science and medical innovation, BACIT intends to hold and finance its life science investments over the long term, with a view to building standalone companies capable of achieving valuations in excess of £1 billion.
Commenting on the announcement, Sir Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said, “This partnership provides the opportunity to build a company with the vision and scale to bring significant long term capital to the development of oncology programs, delivering new innovations faster to patients. This is an important step in our mission to bring forward the day when all cancers are beaten.”