Avant View

AVANT VIEW Quarterly Report Q1 2024

M&A activity remained relatively consistent with previous recent quarters excluding a very slow Q3 2023.  There are strong signs that larger strategics and VC funds are ready to strike when the opportunity presents itself as seen in the recent Novo Holdings $16.5B Catalent acquisition announcement.  Genmab’s $1.8B ProfoundBio acquisition reflects several strategic plays in the Antibody-Drug Conjugate (ADC) space.

Q1 was a slow quarter for investments both in value and count.  This is largely attributed to flat rounds and extensions that continued through the tail end of 2023.  Investing by stage shows a consistent blend compared to previous quarters with a slight lean toward seed and early stage.   

Avant View

The challenging financing environment for life sciences startups persisted in Q1 2024, with low deal count and investment levels reflecting investors’ continued conservatism.  Investors have shifted from a growth-at-all-costs mindset during the zero-interest-rate years to seeking a balance of growth, profitability path, and reasonable valuation before deploying more capital.

Investors have shifted from a growth-at-all-costs mindset during zero-interest rate years to seeking a balance of growth, profitability path, and reasonable valuation before deploying more capital.

While funding remains difficult, there are signs of an end-market recovery.  Life science tools valuations improved in Q1, and strong biotech funding in Q4 2023 and Q1 2024 is expected to flow back to these enabling technologies, though with a 6-month lag. This glimmer of hope was reinforced through conversations at major conferences like JPM, Phacilitate, SLAS, and Meeting on the Med, where many startups reported an uptick in activity.  Meanwhile, silver linings continue to show in key modalities like cell and gene therapies with 7 approvals last year alone, the promise of Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADCs) and GLP-1s are fueling several deals and manufacturing site expansions mentioned below.

Top Headlines

Novo Holdings pays $16.5B to take Catalent private and sells three manufacturing sites to Novo Nordisk.

Novo Holdings, a holding and investment company that is responsible for managing the assets and wealth of the Novo Nordisk Foundation, announced that they have entered into a merger agreement to acquire Catalent in an all-cash transaction that values Catalent at $16.5 billion on an enterprise value basis.  Novo Holdings aims to improve on Catalent’s current situation, following $539 million in 2023 revenue losses amid declining demand for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, and a total debt of more than $5 billion as of the end of last year.

CDMO giant WuXi AppTec is in the spotlight for transferring US IP to Beijing

The news broke when U.S. intelligence officials in late February told senators that Chinese pharmaceutical firm WuXi AppTec had transferred U.S. intellectual property to Beijing without consent, according to two sources.  This had a ripple effect throughout the ecosystem with headlines like these: BIO forcing out WuXi AppTec due to pressure from the US Congress.


Genmab pays $1.8B in cash acquiring ProfoundBio and throws its hat into the exploding antibody-drug conjugate ring.

VC Deals

Zephyr AI raises $111M in Series A to radically rebuild drug discovery and precision medicine.

Frontier Medicines closes oversubscribed $80M Series C integrating computational approaches and machine learning. 

Unlearn raises $50M Series C to develop digital twin technology to populate intelligent control arms in clinical studies.

Argonaut Manufacturing Services emerges with $45M Series A to provide supply chain technologies for biopharmaceutical, life science, and molecular diagnostics.

Merck pens $220 million biobucks deal with Unnatural Products, sighting macrocyclic peptides as “the next wave of drug discovery”.

Cleveland Diagnostics completes $75M Novo Holdings led financing to advance its early-detection oncology testing platform.

ADC focused TORL BioTherapeutics unveiled a $158 million Series B-2

Regeneron Ventures launches committing $100M per year over the next 5 years.

ADC frenzy continues with ProfoundBio’s oversubscribed $112 million Series B round led by Ally Bridge Group.

Roche led $254 million in new funding to accelerate Freenome’s platform for early cancer detection.


Goldman Sachs to invest in several verticals within Life Sciences with the launch of a $650 million fund.

VC veteran founded Scion Life Sciences surpasses $250 million target with $310M fund.


BioNTech leverages Autolus’ CAR-T expertise in $250M collaboration.

Samsung Biologics partners with LegoChem Biosciences for ADC development and manufacturing.

AstraZeneca invests $300 million in a facility in Rockville, MD to secure cell therapy ambitions.

Thermo leaps forward in automated cell therapy manufacturing with Multiply Labs partnership.

Resilience rides GLP-1 demand with +$225 million fill/finish expansion.

Lonza scoops up legacy Genetech Vacaville, CA site from Roche for $1.2B.

CDMO AGC Bio will supply lentiviral vectors for Orchard Therapeutics’ metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD) gene therapy

Recipharm, sells off seven manufacturing and development facilities in Europe to US PE Firm Blue Wolf Capital.

CDMO Fujifilm Diosynth begins 160,000L, $1.2bn expansion in NC.

All News

Virica Biotech selected as a lead project as part of NIIMBL’s $10M biomanufacturing projects.

bit.bio launches 16 disease models for neurodegenerative disease.

Iovance gets FDA approval first one-time cell therapy for a solid tumor.

SQZ Biotechnologies  liquidation and $11.8 million asset fire sale to Stemcell.

Xcell Biosciences boosts cell and gene therapy collaboration with Labcorp.

IRA drives Pfizer’s decision to focus on biologics, not small molecules.

Orchard sets new price record with $4.25 million one-time gene therapy.

Moderna projects a $52B vaccine market as it sees $750M in Blackstone funding.