German start-up BioNTech raised $325 million in private funding, one of the largest hauls for a European biopharma company, which will help it develop its pipeline for cancer therapies designed to target unique characteristics of each patient’s tumor.

The company, which has development partnerships with Pfizer, Sanofi and other major pharmaceutical firms, tapped investors as it develops its drug pipeline and manufacturing infrastructure. The round, led by Fidelity Management & Research Co., follows a January infusion of $91.5 million from Sanofi, and a $270 million funding last year that included Redmile Group, which is part of the latest round.

Investors are betting on BioNTech’s bringing together of “biology with bioinformatics, robotics and artificial intelligence” to develop cures, Ugur Sahin,  BioNTech’s chief executive officer and co-founder said in a company statement.

BioNTech, based in Mainz, has seven therapies in clinical trials, including vaccines for melanoma and the seasonal flu as well as therapies to treat breast and ovarian cancer. 

  • Founded in 2008 as a spin-off from Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, BioNTech has more than 1,000 employees, making it one of the largest private biopharma companies.
  • BioNTech has corporate partnerships with seven big pharma companies, including Bayer, Eli Lilly, Genentech and Pfizer. 
  • In March, Reuters reported the company was preparing for an initial public offering of up to $800 million, valuing BioNTech at $4 billion, with a listing on the Nasdaq exchange as early as the fourth quarter.
  • In May, the company acquired San Diego-based MabVax Therapeutics’ lead antibody candidate, MVT-5873, which is in phase 1 clinical development for treating pancreatic cancer.
  • Karma Takeaway: BioNTech’s drugs, known as biologics, are set to revolutionise the healthcare landscape by using the body’s own proteins and antibodies to open up new treatment options and even vaccinate against certain types of cancer.