Invenra Raises $3M to Develop Antibodies with, and for, Drug Makers

Xconomy Wisconsin — 

Madison, WI-based Invenra has raised more than $3 million from 27 investors, according to a document filed with federal securities regulators.

Mark Kubik, the company’s vice president of business development, says that some of the money will go toward fulfilling agreements it’s made with drug companies, including U.K.-based Oxford BioTherapeutics, which Invenra announced it had partnered with last year.

Invenra’s cell-free protein expression technology allows for the screening of hundreds of thousands of full antibodies, and is much faster than conventional cell-based methods for finding therapeutic antibodies.

The company’s core business model involves licensing its technology to drug makers, Kubik says. With these deals, the pharmaceutical partner owns and is responsible for developing the antibody products.

However, Kubik says that Invenra is also exploring the possibility of forging agreements where it would be responsible for providing some of the resources to develop molecules—people and money, namely—and ultimately get to share in the rights to drug candidates.

“Ultimately, we would like to [have] 100 percent ownership of the candidates that come out,” Kubik says. “This is kind of a halfway point. [We’d be] sharing those rights—sharing some of the risk and sharing some of the reward.”

Kubik says that his company expects to announce a collaboration that fits this shared risk-shared reward description in the coming months. He declined to name the organization or organizations with whom Invenra is planning to partner.

Invenra now has 18 full-time employees and one intern, says CEO Roland Green. “We’re fully staffed for the next year,” adds Kubik.

The latest funding round brings the total amount Invenra has raised to more than $11 million, according to SEC documents. It marks the biotech’s second significant capital raise in the past year; last August, the company raised $2 million. Kubik says he doesn’t expect another major investment in the near future. While Invenra hasn’t made many details public in terms of the groups it’s developing antibodies for—or with—Kubik says that he feels the new financing is a validation of the work his team has done so far.

“There’s a sense that you must be delivering on your promises if existing investors are willing to pony up another $3 million,” he says.