UK biotech companies pharma companies

Top 30 Biotech & Pharmaceutical Companies in the UK

Lily Meckel, 24 August 2022

The United Kingdom is a major presence in the high-growth life sciences sector. Biotech companies and pharmaceutical companies, specifically, have become increasingly relevant in developing treatments during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine among the most notable. And with the introduction of its Life Sciences Vision, the UK Government hopes to further the country’s position as a global leader in the life sciences sector.

Despite accounting for less than 3% of high-growth UK companies, life sciences companies raked in 9% of equity investment raised between 2012 and 2021 (equating to £10.7b in total). Indeed, the UK is considered to be Europe’s top biotech hub for life science startup funding. What’s more, the UK life sciences sector is also the country’s top industry for academic spinouts, with its intensive research and testing processes being well aligned with the university commercialisation model. 

This article takes a deep dive into the UK pharmaceutical and biotech sectors, ranking the country’s top 30 companies, based on the amount of equity funding secured to date. 

What is a biotech company?

Biotech companies create products using living organisms, such as DNA. These companies are most active in the healthcare industry, creating medicines and drugs, such as gene therapies or vaccines. But biotech companies may also develop agricultural and environmental products, such as biofuels or engineered crops. Notable examples of biotechnology firms include Oxford Nanopore, Moderna, Immunocore and BioNTech.

What is a pharmaceutical company?

Pharmaceutical companies focus on drug development, using chemicals and artificial sources. They are often much larger in size and scope than biotech companies, for instance big pharma companies like Novartis and Johnson & Johnson.

Biopharmaceutical companies

Whilst the process by which biotech and pharmaceutical companies develop products differs, there are also several biopharmaceutical companies that use both biotechnology and chemicals in their product development. These include the likes of GSK (GlaxoSmithKline), Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Astrazeneca and Bayer.

Top biotech and pharmaceutical companies in the UK

With 1,057 high-growth life sciences firms currently active in the UK, we track a long list of biotech and pharmaceutical companies innovating in the sector. Below is our ranking of the top 30 UK biotech and pharmaceutical businesses to watch this year, many of which are spinouts from leading UK universities. We’ve listed them in order of the amount of equity investment they’ve raised so far. 

01.

Artios Pharma

Date founded: 2015
Location: Cambridge

Based at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, Artios Pharma develops groundbreaking cancer treatments that target DNA Damage Response (DDR) pathways to kill or weaken cancer cells. The company was placed on the BusinessCloud MedTech 50 high-growth list in 2021.

Artios Pharma has secured £245m in equity investment, across five funding rounds. Investors include Arix Bioscience, CRT Pioneer Fund, Pfizer Venture Investments and SV Health Investors. The company’s most recent equity deal, in July 2021, saw it reach a post-money valuation of £242m. 

02.

F2G

Date founded: 1998
Location: Salford

Founded in Salford, Greater Manchester in 1998, F2G is a world-leading biotech company that creates treatments against life threatening fungal diseases. Among its creations are orotomides, which are new types of antifungal agents. The University of Manchester spinout now has offices in Austria and the US, in addition to its UK headquarters. 

F2G’s backers include 5Y Capital, Advent Life Sciences, Sofinnova Partners and Novo Holdings. In total, it’s secured £206m in equity investment so far, across 10 rounds. The firm has also been awarded four large innovation grants, totalling £3.33m.

03.

Quell Therapeutics

Date founded: 2019
Location: London

Quell Therapeutics is a venture-stage biopharmaceutical company that develops Treg cell therapies for a range of conditions, including solid organ transplant rejection, and different autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. The company was one of the UK’s top-funded spinouts in 2021, and aims to become a world leader in the cell therapy space.

It was spun-out from University College London and King’s College London in 2019, and has since secured £178m in equity funding, across three rounds. Among its investors are Syncona Partners, UCL Technology Fund, Future Fund: Breakthrough and SV Health Investors, to name a few.

04.

Touchlight

Date founded: 2008
Location: London

Touchlight is a DNA manufacturing company, based in London. It has created a new DNA replication technique, which is applicable to the production of vaccines, as well as other therapies. Touchlight’s rapid growth last year saw it place on the Deloitte Fast 50 ranking for 2021. 

Since its founding in 2008, the life sciences company has secured £147m of equity investment, across 11 fundraisings. Backers include Downing, Novator Partners and Bridford Investments. It also received a £132k innovation grant from FP7, and attended the Mayor’s International Business Programme for ambitious businesses looking to expand overseas.

05.

bit.bio

Date founded: 2016
Location: Cambridge

Through the use of genetically reprogrammed human stem cells, bit.bio (formerly Elpis Biomed) develops new therapies and research tools. By combining coding and biology, the biotechnology company seeks to unlock a new generation of medicines.

The University of Cambridge spinout has secured £141m in equity investment so far, across six funding rounds. Investors include Foresite Capital, Metaplanet, National Resilience, Puhua Capital and Tencent. On top of this, bit.bio has also received two innovation grants, worth £380k in total.

06.

MiroBio

Date founded: 2018
Location: Oxford

Founded in 2018, Oxford-based immunology company MiroBio develops pharmaceuticals, which are aimed towards treating autoimmune and inflammatory disorders. The company’s therapies are aimed at restoring immune balance.

MiroBio is a spinout of the University of Oxford and has raised £133m in equity funding so far, across five rounds. Its long list of investors includes Advent Life Sciences and Medicxi Ventures. In its latest equity fundraising, in June 2022, MiroBio secured £80m to support further research and development.

07.

Pulmocide

Date founded: 2007
Location: London

Pulmocide is a London-based biopharmaceutical company which develops inhalable medicines that treat respiratory illnesses and infections. Among its developments are a new anti-Aspergillus treatment, opelconazole (PC945), which has the potential to be used for aspergillus, cystic fibrosis, and asthma, as well as COVID-19 associated lung damage. 

Pulmocide has secured £128m in equity investment so far, across seven funding rounds. The company’s investors include F-Prime Capital Partners, IP Group, Johnson and Johnson Innovation, SV Health Investors, Touchstone Innovations, and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

08.

Crescendo Biologics

Date founded: 2007
Location: Cambridge

Crescendo Biologics is a Cambridge-based immuno-oncology company. It develops biotechnology that generates fragmented human antibodies, which can be used to create different medicinal products. Crescendo Biologics is a spinout from the Babraham Institute, a partner organisation of the University of Cambridge that’s focused on life sciences research.

The company was awarded a £138k Innovate UK grant and has secured a further £125m of investment, across eight equity funding rounds. Its backers include Astellas Venture Management, Avlar Bioventures, IP Group, Sofinnova Partners, Takeda Ventures and UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund. In 2020, Crescendo Biologics also ranked on the Pharma Times: Alantra Pharma Fast 50 high-growth list and 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain.

09.

OMass

Date founded: 2016
Location: Oxford

Founded in 2016, OMass develops a native mass spectrometry device, which can discover medicines, as well as give insight into how potential therapeutics interact with biological ecosystems. The company is headquartered in Oxford, with additional labs located in Nottingham. 

OMass spun-out of the University of Oxford in 2016, and has since gone on to raise £123m in equity investment, across four funding rounds. It also received a £462k grant from Innovate UK. The company’s most notable investors include GV (Google Ventures), Oxford Science Enterprises, Syncona Partners and Sanofi Ventures.

10.

Evox Therapeutics

Date founded: 2016
Location: Oxford

Another spinout from the University of Oxford, Evox Therapeutics uses vesicles (small bodies that consist of cellular membranes) to encase drugs and treat a range of severe diseases. In 2021, the company appeared on its first high-growth list, the BusinessCloud MedTech 50. 

Evox Therapeutics has secured £115m in equity investment so far, across three fundraisings, from investors such as GV (Google Ventures), Oxford Science Enterprises, Oxford University Innovation and Borealis Ventures. Evox Therapeutics has also received innovation grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Innovate UK, worth a combined £827k. 

11.

CellCentric

Date founded: 2003
Location: Essex

CellCentric is a biotechnology company that develops cancer therapeutics. These include Inobrodib, which combines the twin proteins p300/CBP that target specific cancer types. CellCentric was founded in 2003, as a spinout from the University of Cambridge, and now has offices in Cambridge, Oxford and Manchester.

The company has received a total of four Innovate UK grants, worth £2.45m. It has also secured £113m in equity investment, across an impressive 16 funding rounds. 5Y Capital, Avlar Bioventures, Nesta Impact Investments, Takeda Ventures and UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund are among CellCentric’s most notable investors.

12.

Cambridge Epigenetix

Date founded: 2012
Location: Essex

Cambridge Epigenetix develops genome sequencing technology, which generates genetic and epigenetic data for DNA analysis. The University of Cambridge spinout was founded in 2012 and is now based in Chesterford Research Park, in Essex (alongside CellCentric).

Cambridge Epigenetix has secured £108m in equity funding so far, across seven rounds, alongside a Horizon 2020 innovation grant worth £878k. The company’s investors include GV (Google Ventures), University of Cambridge Enterprise Fund, University of Cambridge Seed Funds, and Syncona Partners.

13.

Quotient Sciences

Date founded: 1990
Location: Nottingham

First established in 1990, Quotient Sciences operates a drug development and manufacturing accelerator. It helps the pharmaceuticals industry to develop drugs quicker and more efficiently. In February 2021, the firm acquired fellow pharmaceutical company Arcinova.

Quotient Sciences has secured a total of £107m in equity investment so far, across two funding rounds.The Nottingham-based firm also appeared on the Pharma Times: Alantra Pharma Fast 50 high-growth list in 2021.

14.

OriBiotech

Date founded: 2015
Location: London

OriBiotech aims to increase access to lifesaving treatments by automating cell and gene therapy research. Founded in 2015, the company attended the Mayor’s International Business Programme accelerator, and operates out of its offices in London and New Jersey.

OriBiotech has secured five equity fundraisings so far, worth £104m in investment, from Amadeus Capital Partners, Kindred Capital VC, Octopus Ventures, Chimera Investment, Northpond Ventures, and Novalis LifeSciences, among others. It has also been awarded an Innovate UK grant worth £347k.

15.

MISSION Therapeutics

Date founded: 2011
Location: Cambridge

Founded in 2011, MISSION Therapeutics develops drugs to hinder the growth and proliferation of tumors. The University of Cambridge spinout is a leader in the deubiquitylating enzyme (DUB) drug discovery and development space.

The life sciences company has received an impressive £4.45m in grant funding so far, through both Innovate UK grants and the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Additionally, MISSION Therapeutics has secured £98.0m in equity investment, across four funding rounds. The company has a range of international investors on its cap table, including Pfizer Venture Investments, Roche Venture Fund and Sofinnova Partners.

16.

Ellipses Pharma

Date founded: 2015
Location: London

Ellipses Pharma is a London-based drug development company, focused on cancer treatments. It looks to acquire innovative cancer assets, with the aim of accelerating their progression through the clinical development process, using new trial designs and regulatory expertise.  

The life sciences firm has raised £97.9m in equity investment so far, across four funding rounds. Each of these deals were unannounced fundraisings, or stealth rounds, meaning they weren’t disclosed to the press.

17.

TauRx Pharmaceuticals

Date founded: 2002
Location: Aberdeen

TauRx Pharmaceuticals creates treatments for Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and other neurodegenerative conditions. The Scottish life sciences company was founded in 2002 and specifically focuses on developing tau aggregation inhibitors (TAIs), to prevent the spread of neurodegenerative diseases.

TauRx Pharmaceuticals has secured £88.0m in equity investment so far, from a single fundraising in October 2015. It has been using this funding to support R&D, specifically its phase 3 clinical trials. The pharmaceutical company is also a spinout from the University of Aberdeen.

18.

Oxford Nanoimaging

Date founded: 2016
Location: Oxford

Oxford Nanoimaging is a University of Oxford spinout, which designs, develops and manufactures super-resolution microscopes. Its flagship product is the Nanoimager—the first ever desktop super-resolution microscope—which is used by the likes of AstraZeneca, Imperial College London, and Harvard University, amongst other major institutions. 

In 2019, Oxford Nanoimaging featured on Britain’s Top 100 Fastest Growing Businesses high-growth list. The company has also raised £84.1m in equity funding already, across five funding rounds, as well as two Horizon 2020 and Innovate UK grants, totalling £284k. It is backed by Oxford Science Enterprises, Oxford Technology, and ARCH Venture Partners, amongst others.

19.

PsiOxus Therapeutics

Date founded: 2006
Location: Abingdon

PsiOxus Therapeutics develops pharmaceuticals to combat a range of different diseases, with a particular focus on cancer. The company was spun-out of the University of Birmingham and Imperial College London, and is now based in Abingdon Science Park, in Oxfordshire.

In 2010, it acquired drug development company Hybrid Biosystems and, in 2011, it spun-out The Native Antigen Company (which has since been bought by LGC). On top of this, PsiOxus Therapeutics has raised £80.8m worth of equity investment, across seven funding rounds. Investors include Invesco, Mercia Fund Managers and SR One. The company has also received two innovation grants, worth £1.95m in total.

20.

MiNA Therapeutics

Date founded: 2014
Location: London

Founded in 2014, MiNA Therapeutics develops cancer treatments. It aims to return patients’ cells to normal function, using small activating RNA that target and activate genes. In 2017, the innovative London-based company was ranked on the Top 100 of Britain’s Fastest Growing Businesses.

MiNA Therapeutics has secured £78.9m in equity investment so far, across eight rounds of funding. Backers include aMoon Fund, Eli Lilly & Co, Sosei, and other undisclosed investors. The company has also received £218k in grant funding from Innovate UK.

21.

Beckley Psytech

Date founded: 2018
Location: Oxford

Beckley Psytech aims to create new mental health therapies using psychedelic medicines. The biotech company is currently researching the psychedelic compound 5-MeO-DMT, which it hopes will one day be used to treat conditions such as depression and addiction.

The company has raised £75.0m in equity investment so far, across three funding rounds. Investors include Adage Capital Management, Bail Capital, Bicycle Day Ventures, and Delphi Ventures. Beckley Psytech’s latest equity fundraising, in August 2021, is intended to support trials and expand the company’s pipeline of psychedelic compounds.

22.

AviadoBio

Date founded: 2019
Location: London

London-based AviadoBio creates gene therapy treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, such as frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The firm’s work is built on research conducted at King’s College London and the UK Dementia Research Institute. 

The King’s College London spinout is backed by investors including Advent Life Sciences, Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF), F-Prime Capital Partners, Johnson & Johnson Innovation and LifeArc. In total, AviadoBio has raised £72.2m in equity investment, across two funding rounds.

23.

Osler Diagnostics

Date founded: 2016
Location: Oxford

Founded in 2016 and based in Oxford, Osler Diagnostics creates a handheld diagnostic device called the Osler Origin. The medical device (completed this year) can be used to rapidly test several different biomarkers of diseases and illnesses. Once approved, this will enable extensive diagnostic testing at speed. 

Osler Diagnostics is yet another University of Oxford spinout in this ranking. The medical diagnostics company has secured six innovation grants already, worth a combined £2.12m, from both Innovate UK and the Defence and Security Accelerate. It has also secured £70.4m in equity investment, across four funding rounds, from Oxford Science Enterprises and Bio-Rad Laboratories, amongst other investors.

24.

Congenica

Date founded: 2012
Location: Cambridge

Cambridge-based Congenica can help doctors tailor their treatments through its genome analysis tool. It uses artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to provide rapid molecular diagnoses of genetic diseases. Congenica has previously attended the NHS Innovation Accelerator and appeared on high-growth lists such as the 100 HealthTech Pioneers and Lazard T100 European Venture Growth Index.

The fast-growing life sciences company was awarded four grants from Innovate UK and the Small Business Research Initiative, worth £3.57m in total. It has also secured £67.8m in equity investment, across eight fundraisings. Investors include Amadeus Capital Partners, Cambridge Innovation Capital, and Downing.

25.

Genomics

Date founded: 2014
Location: Oxford

Founded in 2014, Genomics is a spinout from the University of Oxford. It develops analytics for genome sequence data, thereby enabling the use of genomics for better healthcare decisions. The firm has a team of over 90 people working in its headquarters in Oxford, as well as offices in Cambridge (UK) and Boston (USA). 

Genomics has raised £66.2m worth of equity investment so far, across seven rounds of funding. Backers include F-Prime Capital Partners, Invesco, IP Group, the University of Oxford and Oxford Science Enterprises.

26.

AMO Pharma

Date founded: 2015
Location: Leeds

AMO Pharma is a biopharmaceutical company that develops drugs to treat debilitating diseases with few to no treatment options. These include rare diseases and genetic disorders, such as Fragile X Syndrome, an inherited condition which can lead to intellectual disabilities. AMO Pharma is headquartered in Leeds, with an additional office in North Carolina, in the US. 

Founded in 2015, the firm has secured £62.8m in equity investment so far, across four funding rounds. The most recent of these was a £17.1m raise, completed in May 2022. AMO Pharma’s backers include the (now closed) Woodford Investment Management fund, alongside several undisclosed investors.

27.

Microbiotica

Date founded: 2016
Location: Cambridge

Gut bacteria expert Microbiotica uses human microbes research to develop therapies for diseases and illnesses. The biotech company was founded in 2016 by Dr Trevor Lawley, Prof Gordon Dougan FRS and Dr Mike Romanos, and builds on research developed at the Wellcome Sanger Institute.

Microbiotica has secured £62.0m in equity investment so far, across four funding rounds. The most recent of these was a £50m deal, in March 2022, aimed at beginning phase 1b of clinical testing and increasing the firm’s discovery pipeline. Microbiotica’s investors include IP Group, Cambridge Innovation Capital, Flerie Invest and Tencent.

28.

NeRRE Therapeutics

Date founded: 2012
Location: Hertfordshire

Drug development firm NeRRE Therapeutics treats chronic conditions, such as cough hypersensitivity disorders, using neurokinin antagonists. Founded in 2012, the GlaxoSmithKline spinout has itself spun-out KanNDy Therapeutics, which focuses on treating menopause symptoms without hormones (and was acquired by Bayer in 2020).

NeRRe Therapeutics has secured £60.5m in equity investment so far, across four funding rounds. Investors include Advent Life Sciences, Forbion Capital Partners, Novo Holdings, and SR One. The company’s latest funding round, in July 2021, raised £20.0m to support phase two of clinical development.

29.

Storm Therapeutics

Date founded: 2015
Location: Cambridge

Storm Therapeutics is a University of Cambridge spinout. It aims to develop cancer treatments based on small molecules that affect RNA. The company has secured £60.4m in equity investment, across six rounds, with backing from Cambridge Innovation Capital, Pfizer Venture Investments, University of Cambridge Enterprise Fund, and several others.

Between 2019 and 2022, Storm Therapeutics was granted £700k in funding from Innovate UK. Its most recent grant is intended for developing new drugs against a SARS-CoV2 protein—which has not yet been targeted by currently available treatments—using the firm’s RNA epigenetic platform. 

30.

Synthace

Date founded: 2011
Location: London

Software company Synthace has created the world’s first cloud-based experiment platform, for life science R&D teams. The University College London spinout helps scientists to innovate faster, by automating high-throughput experiments, structuring complex datasets, and allowing them to use powerful methodologiesall from within a browser.

Synthace has secured three grants from Innovate UK so far, amounting to £502k, alongside seven equity fundraisings, worth £60.1m in total. Investors include Amadeus Capital Partners, Outsized Ventures, Sofinnova Partners and UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund. Synthace also attended Tech Nation’s Upscale accelerator in 2016, as well as the Mayor’s International Business Programme.

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