Lisbon, Portugal - 09 January 2024 - CellmAbs S.A. (“CellmAbs”), a Portuguese biotech company backed by Bionova Capital focused on the research and development of cancer-specific therapies, announced today that it has entered into a patent assignment and licensing agreement with BioNTech SE (Nasdaq: BNTX, "BioNTech"), a next generation immunotherapy company pioneering novel therapies for cancer and other serious diseases.
Under the terms of the agreement, BioNTech acquired a CellmAbs’ pre-clinical antibody candidate and related technology. CellmAbs will receive upfront and near-term payments and may be eligible to receive several hundred million US Dollars in milestone payments and royalties, this deal could become Portugal's first billion-dollar transaction in the life sciences sector.
CellmAbs was founded in 2019 by Nuno Prego Ramos and Professor Paula Videira at NOVA University Lisbon, with Bionova Capital and Portugal Ventures as its first and sole investors. “The accomplishments of CellmAbs are a testament to our efficiency in strategy execution and resource utilization, combined with our commitment to scientific discovery and drug development”, said Nuno Prego Ramos, CellmAbs’ co-Founder and CEO “It also shows the potential of Portuguese biotech companies to be at the forefront of global medical innovation”.
“It has been a privilege to actively contribute to CellmAbs’ accelerated growth path from the university to becoming one of the world’s leading startups with potential breakthrough cancer treatments”, said Ricardo Perdigão Henriques, Bionova Capital’s CEO and CellmAbs Board member. “CellmAbs is our second profitable exit, accomplished in only four years since we first invested in the company in 2019. We are honored to have backed the company from day one and provided continuous support ever since. This is a remarkable example of the potential of the Portuguese biomedical ecosystem which has abundant high-quality scientific research ready to be transferred into biotech startups. This is the rationale behind our recent launch of Biovance Capital Fund I, a new venture capital fund of up to € 60 million to invest in early-stage biotech companies across Europe with the European Investment Fund as cornerstone investor”.
About Bionova Capital
Bionova Capital is a specialized investor in early-stage life science companies across Europe. Founded in 2015 as Hovione Capital, Bionova Capital has invested in seven companies and already closed two profitable exits. Bionova Capital currently manages a portfolio of four companies, two in the UK, one in Spain, and one in Portugal.
Ricardo Perdigão Henriques, PhD - CEO
Founded in 2019 as a spin-off from NOVA University of Lisbon, CellmAbs specializes in developing novel monoclonal antibodies targeting cancer-specific antigens, focusing on antibody-drug conjugates, bispecific T-cell engagers, and cell therapies. CellmAbs has developed several preclinical candidates based on its leading understanding of cancer-specific antigens. CellmAbs is the result of successful translational research collaboration between NOVA University, the Portuguese Institute of Oncology Porto (IPO), and Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) in Germany. Co-founded by Nuno Prego Ramos and Prof. Paula Videira, CellmAbs is supported by two major Life Science Venture Capital firms in Portugal, Portugal Ventures and Bionova Capital. The team, comprising international and experienced scientists, collaborates with biotech/pharma companies and clinical institutes to advance its pipeline.