Portfolio January 27 2020

Currencycloud, the market leader in embedded cross-border payments, secures $80m

Currencycloud, the leader in providing embedded B2B cross-border payments for platforms of the future, today announces that it has secured an additional $80 million in funding to fuel the next phase of its growth story. Currencycloud will use the capital to strengthen its position as the market leader in embedded cross-border payments, by expanding its portfolio of emerging payment methods and developing its partner ecosystem so that more people and businesses can benefit from its next generation cross-border technology. As part of its Series E funding round, Currencycloud received new backing from leading global institutions such as Visa, International Finance Corporation (a member of the World Bank Group), BNP Paribas, SBI Group and Siam Commercial Bank. Visa, who partnered with Currencycloud in 2019 to deliver innovation in travel payments, will see Colleen Ostrowski, SVP and Treasurer of Visa Inc, join the board. Existing backers Sapphire Ventures, Notion Capital, GV, Accomplice, and Anthemis, also participated in the round. The latest round brings the company’s total funding to over $140 million. “Currencycloud is re-imagining how money flows around the global economy and embedding it into platforms of the future.”  said Mike Laven, CEO of Currencycloud. “Transfer of value is fast becoming the newest layer in the modern technology stack, and Currencycloud is positioned to provide the infrastructure to make this happen. With these new strategic investors, we are well placed to be the go-to provider for the next wave of Fintech innovation” “I’m delighted to be joining the board of such an exciting technology company,” added Colleen Ostrowski, SVP and Treasurer at Visa. “Currencycloud is re-shaping the way that the platforms of the future are moving money around the world, and there is huge potential for the company to drive further innovation in the cross-border payments industry.” Enhancing global payments infrastructure for large institutions Since 2012, Currencycloud has processed over $50 billion in cross-border payments and now boasts some of the biggest banking and Fintech brands among their clients. With the likes of Monzo, Starling and Revolut already counted among their customers, Currencycloud has recently added Visa, Bottomline, and Dwolla to the impressive list of companies they work with. At the end of last year the company also made its most significant update to its product line, with the launch of Currencycloud Spark, a solution providing multi-currency accounts for banks and Fintechs to collect, store, convert and pay in more than 35 currencies. Looking to the future, the company will be adding integration with major software platforms, as well as adding alternate payment methods to its product offering such as mobile wallets, instant payments, and cards. FT Partners served as exclusive strategic and financial advisor to Currencycloud and its board of directors.  

Portfolio January 21 2020

Inotrem secures strategic licensing agreement for a companion diagnostics test in sceptic shock

Inotrem S.A., a biotechnology company specialized in the development of immunotherapies targeting the TREM-1 pathway with potential applications for acute and chronic inflammatory syndromes, announced today that it has entered a worldwide licensing agreement with Roche Diagnostics for the commercialization of a mechanism-based companion diagnostic test using a soluble plasma protein (sTREM-1). This agreement consolidates existing ties between Roche Diagnostics and Inotrem who are jointly developing since 2017 an in vitro assay for measurement of sTREM-1 in plasma samples of septic shock patients. Measurement of sTREM-1 in blood provides a valuable indicator for the severity and outcome prediction of septic shock patients. One of the main issues with septic shock is the heterogeneity of the patient population. The companion diagnostic test will allow a stratification of patients to identify those who are more likely to respond to Inotrem’s treatment. Septic shock is the ultimate complication of sepsis. The incidence of septic shock continuously raises, and mortality remains elevated (35%) in developed countries. There is currently no specific mechanism-based therapy approved for this indication besides antibiotics and symptomatic treatment. Inotrem’s therapeutic solution has the potential to become the first targeted treatment for septic shock. “We are delighted to extend our partnership with Inotrem to make the sTREM-1 test, which we are co-developing at Roche, available for patients globally. Through the development and commercialization of this novel companion diagnostic test we are committed to delivering a solution that enables much needed, better decisions for sepsis patients”, said Ann Costello, Global Head Centralised and Point of Care Solutions, Roche Diagnostics. “Roche Diagnostics’ licensing agreement is an important milestone for us: it is a strong endorsement of Inotrem’s innovative approach targeting the TREM-1 pathway, and it allows us to further focus on our core mission: the development of a nangibotide-based septic shock treatment” added Dr. Jean-Jacques Garaud, CEO of Inotrem. Inotrem has recently initiated its Phase IIb study in septic shock patients (ASTONISH trial) and enrolled its first patient. The study aims at demonstrating efficacy of its lead compound, nangibotide, and bring a clinically relevant proof of clinical activity in septic shock patients. This study also intends to confirm the value of soluble TREM-1 as a potential companion diagnostic test to identify patients more likely to benefit from nangibotide treatment.

Portfolio January 17 2020

Funnel closes $47m Series B to prepare marketing data for better reporting and analytics

Funnel, the Stockholm-based startup that offers technology to help businesses prepare - or make "business-ready" - their marketing data for better reporting and analysis, has closed $47 million in Series B funding. Leading the round is Eight Roads Ventures, and F-Prime Capital, with participation from existing investors Balderton Capital, Oxx, Zobito, and Industifonden, in addition to Kreos Capital. Funnel says it will use the injection of capital to accelerate its plans in the U.S. where the company is seeing "strong demand" from enterprises. It will also invest in its technical teams to further its vision of "creating a single source of truth of marketing, sales and other commerce data". Founded in 2014 by Frederik Skantze and Per Made, who are also behind Facebook advertising tool Qwaya, Funnel set out to let marketers automate their online marketing data from multiple platforms in real-time, so that they can more accurately analyse their online marketing spend. Initially that included visualising the marketing data, but now the company has decided to focus solely on collecting the data from all the disparate marketing channels, and cleaning it up and normalizing it so that they can be imported into popular business intelligence tools to be analysed. "[We have] shifted away from visualizing the market data to 'just' collecting and making it business-ready as we have seen that to be the real pain point for customers," Funnel co-founder and CEO Fredrik Skantze tells TechCrunch. "Visualization is done well in existing business intelligence tools once the data is properly prepared. Automating the collection and preparation of the data has proven to be a very hard thing to do right and we wanted to make sure we were the best at this which we now confidently can say we are as we hear that again and again from customers". To that end, Skantze explains that Funnel has direct connections to tools like Tableau and Google Data Studio. The idea is that customers can instantly visualize the data in the tools they are already familiar with. Since we last covered Funnel mid-2017, the overarching trend has been an explosive growth in digital marketing. Skantze says that 2017, 39% of worldwide marketing spend was digital and was mostly e-commerce, gaming and app companies who were putting the majority of their budgets online. Since then, forecasts have been repeatedly adjusted upwards, and in 2020, leading markets like the UK are now approaching 70% for digital marketing. "That means the big brands are putting their big budgets online," he says. "These brands are moving their marketing online because of the performance promise of digital marketing. But delivering on that performance promise requires being data-driven. This is a huge shift for these organizations that they are graudally coming to grips with as they are traditionally more branding focused. It requires creating new roles like marketing analytics, marketing technologists and putting in place a data infrastructure. This is complex." That, of course, plays nicely into the hands of Funnel, which is seeing enterprises far beyond e-commerce and apps utilise its wares. "We have spent the last year building out the enterprise readiness of our product and offering [features] like security certifications and enterprise features to be ready to take on these customers," adds Skantze. Meanwhile, during the last year, the Funnel team has grown from 73 to 140, and the company signed new office space for a total of 400 people across Stockholm and Boston, ready for further expansion.

Portfolio January 13 2020

Mereo BioPharma and Oncologie enter into global licensing agreement for Navicixizumab

Mereo BioPharma Group plc (NASDAQ: MREO, AIM: MPH), "Mereo" or the "Company," and Oncologie, Inc. ("Oncologie") today announced a global license agreement (the "License Agreement") for the development and commercialization of navicixizumab, an anti-DLL4/VEGF bispecific antibody currently being evaluated in an ongoing Phase 1b study in combination with paclitaxel in patients with advanced heavily pretreated ovarian cancer. Navicixizumab previously completed a Phase 1a monotherapy study in patients with various types of refractory solid tumors and is one of two product candidates Mereo acquired through its 2019 merger with OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc. In October 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") granted Fast Track designation to navicixizumab and has agreed in principle on the design of a study that could potentially support accelerated approval for navicixizumab in a heavily pretreated, platinum-resistant ovarian cancer patient population. Under the terms of the License Agreement, Oncologie will receive an exclusive worldwide license to develop and commercialize navicixizumab. Mereo will receive an upfront payment of $4 million with an additional payment of $2 million conditional on a CMC (Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls) milestone. Oncologie will be responsible for all future research, development and commercialization of navicixizumab. Additionally, Mereo will be eligible to receive up to $300 million in future clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones, tiered royalties ranging from the mid-single-digit to sub-teen percentages on global annual net sales of navicixizumab, as well as a negotiated percentage of sublicensing revenues from certain sublicensees. "We believe Oncologie is expertly positioned to further advance navicixizumab through clinical development and towards potential commercialization," said Dr. Denise Scots-Knight, Chief Executive Officer of Mereo. "While we believe navicixizumab is an exciting oncology asset, we continue to focus our primary efforts on the development of our innovative rare disease portfolio including our lead product candidate setrusumab for the treatment of osteogenesis imperfecta, which continues to advance towards a pivotal Phase 3 pediatric study." "We believe navicixizumab is a strong strategic fit with our portfolio of innovative oncology assets, and we are excited to enter into this agreement with Mereo," said Laura E. Benjamin, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Oncologie. "Navicixizumab has demonstrated robust activity when combined with paclitaxel in a Phase 1b study in platinum-resistant ovarian cancer patients including those who received prior bevacizumab. Navicixizumab has also demonstrated promising activity in a Phase 1b monotherapy study of heavily pretreated ovarian cancer patients, as well as in other tumor types. We seek to leverage the strong development and regulatory progress Mereo has already made to continue its development and ultimately make this investigational therapy available to patients as quickly as possible." As a consequence of the License Agreement with Oncologie, and in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Contingent Value Rights Agreement for former stockholders of OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ("OncoMed"), dated  April 23, 2019, by and among Mereo and Computershare Inc., as rights agent, (the "Mereo CVR Agreement"), holders of contingent value rights ("CVRs") pursuant to the Mereo CVR Agreement will be entitled to receive certain eligible cash milestone payments made to Mereo under the License Agreement relating to navicixizumab. Details of the amount payable to holders of CVRs from the upfront payment will be announced within thirty days of the effective date of the License Agreement. Pursuant to the terms of the Mereo CVR Agreement, if a milestone occurs prior to the fifth anniversary of the closing of Mereo's merger with OncoMed, then holders of CVRs will be entitled to receive an amount in cash equal to 70% of the aggregate principal amount received by Mereo after deduction of  costs, charges and expenditures set out in detail in the Mereo CVR Agreement.  Such milestone payments are also subject to a cash consideration cap, pursuant to which the aggregate principal amount of all cash payments made to holders of CVRs under the Mereo CVR Agreement shall in no case exceed $79.7 million. About NavicixizumabNavicixizumab is an anti-DLL4/VEGF bispecific antibody designed to inhibit both Delta-like ligand 4 ("DLL4") in the Notch cancer stem cell pathway as well as vascular endothelial growth factor ("VEGF") and thereby induce potent anti-tumor responses while mitigating certain angiogenic-related toxicities. In preclinical studies, navicixizumab demonstrated robust in vivo anti-tumor activity across a range of solid tumor xenografts, including colon, ovarian, lung and pancreatic cancers, among others. In a Phase 1a study with single-agent navicixizumab, 19 of 66 patients with various types of refractory solid tumors had tumor shrinkage following treatment with navicixizumab. Notably, 3 of the 12 (25%) ovarian cancer patients treated in the trial achieved an unconfirmed partial response with single-agent navicixizumab therapy. A Phase 1b dose escalation and expansion study of navicixizumab plus paclitaxel has completed enrollment of 44 platinum resistant ovarian cancer patients who had failed >2 prior therapies and/or received prior bevacizumab. As of the last interim data analysis at the end of Q1 2019, the unconfirmed response rate was 41%. The unconfirmed ORR for bevacizumab-naïve patients was 64% and 30% for bevacizumab pre-treated patients. The median PFS for all patients was 7.3 months. The most common related adverse events of any grade were hypertension (68%), fatigue (46%), headache (25%), neutropenia (21%), diarrhea (18%), pulmonary hypertension (14%), dyspnea (14%) and peripheral edema (14%).  Other related adverse events of special interest were one Grade 1 related heart failure, one Grade 3 and one Grade 4 related thrombocytopenia, and one Grade 4 related gastrointestinal perforation. The FDA has granted Fast Track designation to navicixizumab for the treatment of high grade ovarian, primary peritoneal or fallopian tube cancer in patients who have received at least 3 prior therapies and/or prior bevacizumab. Following a Type B End of Phase 1 meeting with the FDA held in July 2019, the FDA agreed in principle on an outline for a Phase 2 clinical trial that could potentially support accelerated approval of navicixizumab in this ovarian cancer patient population.

Portfolio January 13 2020

CropX acquires irrigation tools provider CropMetrics

CropX, which makes sensors to monitor soil conditions on farms, announced today that it has acquired cloud-based irrigation management tool company CropMetrics. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The Nebraska-based CropMetrics uses a combination of soil sensors and cloud-based analytics to develop real-time irrigation plans for farmers based on current conditions. CropMetrics has been around for 10 years and manages half a million acres of U.S. farmland . As we’ve written before, CropX has it’s own digital soil monitoring system for farmers: There are two components to the CropX product: a hardware sensor and cloud-based software. The CropX sensor is a screw-shaped device that farmers literally screw into the ground. This screw shape is actually one of the ways CropX differentiates itself in the soil analyzing space because the threads of the device give it more surface area than straight tube-shaped sensors. Placing sensors on the threads of a CropX allows water to pass through the sensor not just around it. As water passes through these sensors, information is sent up to the cloud where CropX’s software analyzes the soil for moisture levels, temperature and electroconductivity to determine salinity levels. Results are sent to a mobile app where the farmer can better manage nutrient management and fertilizer application. CropX also incorporates aerial imagery, weather data and topography maps to help analyze conditions and advise farmers on appropriate actions for their particular plots of land. The promise of IoT tools like CropX and CropMetrics is their ability to provide data to farmers so they can waste less water, use less fertilizer and better optimize their food growing operations. There are actually a few soil sensors competing for a place on the farm. Teralytics monitors nitrogen, phosphate and potassium levels in the soil for precise fertilizing, and Arable measures both soil moisture as well as ambient temperatures around the crops. CropX, which is based in Tel-Aviv, Israel, raised $10 million in August of last year, and has raised nearly $30 million in total. CropMetrics has raised just $1.5 million. CropX said the acquisition will expand its U.S. footprint and product offerings.