Brandon Capital's vision for a transcontinental life science axis

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In this blog, Jonathan Tobin, Partner at Brandon Capital, discusses the firm's recent close of its sixth fund at A$270 million, bringing its total assets under management to over A$1.25 billion.

Jonathan also shares his thoughts on strategically bridging the gap and connecting with global players like Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and the US.

In the dynamic realm of life sciences, where global collaborations are paramount, Brandon Capital is strategically positioning itself to bridge the gap between Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the US.

Having recently announced the first close of its sixth fund, totalling A$270 million (US $180 million), its largest fund to date, the firm now has over A$1.25 billion under management across six funds.

Founded in 2007 from a standing start within a nascent Life Sciences sector, support from Australian superannuation (pension) funds has helped propel their international expansion.

Leveraging British connections

As Australasia's leading life science venture capital fund, Brandon Capital seeks to build the financial and capability substructure for a Transcontinental Life Science Axis.

Forged from strong British ties, Brandon Capital co-founder and Managing Partner Stephen Thompson, UK partner Jonathan Tobin, and Venture Partners Roberto Solari and Tom McCarthy form the foundations of this Axis.

British-born Brandon Capital co-founder and managing partner Stephen Thomson completed a PhD in immunology at Kings College before pursuing leadership roles at Cantab Pharmaceuticals and then Apax Partners.

Roberto Solari, a member of Brandon Capital's 2007 founding team, was Vice President and head of biology at Glaxo Smith Kline before becoming a serial entrepreneur, going on to found or co-found Astex, Heptares, and MyricxBio.

Tom McCarthy, an Australian who now lives in the UK, was the CEO of Spinifex Pharmaceuticals, which Novartis acquired for US $700 million, before co-founding UK-based biotech startups Grey Wolf Therapeutics, Pathios, and ThirtyFiveBio.

As a team, Brandon Capital is laying the groundwork for a vision that transcends geographical confines and amplifies the untapped potential of both markets.

A strategic hub with a bridge to the southern hemisphere

Now led by Partner Jonathan Tobin, Brandon Capital's London office fosters a two-way expertise and capital exchange between Australia and Europe.

Before joining Brandon, Jonathan was a Managing Director at Arix Bioscience, a UK and US-based biotech venture firm, building a team and portfolio that include Artios Pharma, Atox Bio, Depixus, STipe Therapeutics, and VelosBio (acquired by Merck in 2020 for $2.75 billion).

Beyond Brandon, Jonathan is an investor-in-residence with Cancer Research Horizons, a trustee on the board of the Autism Centre for Excellence, and a member of the Investment Advisory Committee of the KHAN drug discovery fund in Germany. 

One of the things that attracted Jonathan to Brandon Capital was the Australian connection—Australia is a top-10 producer of research science globally, has geographic links to Asia, and has close cultural ties with Britain.

Jonathan underscores the strategic significance: "Many of our Australian companies have management, board members, and advisors in the UK and use CROs and clinical research facilities here—so UK expansion makes complete strategic sense for the firm."

Life Sciences below the equator

Australia ranks among the top 10 countries globally for the quality and output of its medical and clinical research, with many of our researchers undertaking further study and joining UK-based biotechs and pharma.

The Australian superannuation system has significantly boosted Australia’s innovation by serving as limited partners (LPs) in several venture capital funds, providing essential funding and support to emerging biotech and technology-based companies.

This model has successfully driven advancements in medical research and technology, illustrating the potential benefits for the British pension system to invest in innovation-driven venture capital similarly.

The Brandon team is determined to develop the Australian Life Sciences ecosystem into a vibrant community - creating a consortium that includes the top Life Science research institutes across Australia and New Zealand to share deal flow and best practices.

And beyond investing, Brandon runs the CUREator incubator, which, with funding from the Australian Medical Research Future Fund, provides non-dilutive capital to promising early-stage research, an internship program and was the founding partner for a women-in-leadership (WILD for Stem) program. 

Pioneering collaborations for global impact

As a non-UK-domiciled firm with ambitions to significantly contribute to the UK sector, Brandon Capital sees the BIA as a great way to showcase Australian biotech companies and attract capital and talent to our European-based companies.

In addition to introducing seeded Australian biotech companies into the UK ecosystem, Brandon Capital has also invested in great local startups, including AstronauTx, NRG Therapeutics and Myricx Bio, a spinout from the Crick and Imperial College developing antibody-drug conjugates (ADC's) for cancer treatment, which recently announced a £90 million Series A.

Other recent UK-based portfolio company raises include Pheon Therapeutics, as a founding investor in its US $68 million series A, which raised US $120 million to advance its differentiated pipeline of ADCs through clinical proof of concept. Pathios announced that it would spend US $25 million to advance its lead oncology candidate, PTT-4256, into the clinic and expand the leadership team.

With a strategic San Francisco footprint led by industry veterans Leighton Read and Julie Cherrington, Brandon seamlessly integrates into the global ecosystem, reaffirming its commitment to a future where borders are mere lines on a map and scientific innovation knows no bounds. 

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