BioPharma, Pharma

ApoGen secures $7M Series A with Accelerator Corporation

With a $7 million Series A financing round, ApoGen has become the latest startup to enter Accelerator Corporation’s syndicate funding and operational support program. It’s a strong endorsement from a firm which makes very few investments.

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Many life science venture firms pride themselves on being involved, rolling up their sleeves and symbolically claiming several board positions.

Accelerator Corporation takes it to a whole new level, with a full incubator-like service that starts on day one, after it closes an initial seed or Series A round.

On Monday, the firm announced its third and final investment of the year, ApoGen Biotechnologies, with $7 million in new funding to begin its development journey with Accelerator.

“We’re not quite an incubator, we’re not quite a venture capital — we’re kind of a hybrid of the two,” said Accelerator Corporation CEO Thong Q. Le in a phone interview.

Founded in 2003, the firm brings together many experienced investors along with scientific talent from the Institute for Systems Biology.

It has raised over $100 million through four funds, drawing on 12 highly-involved investors including AbbVie Ventures, Alexandria Venture Investments, ARCH Venture Partners, Eli Lilly and Company, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Watson Fund, WRF Capital and WuXi PharmaTech.

The syndicate investors pre-commit to funding the companies that Accelerator chooses, Le explained, allowing the startups to close quickly with an expert investment team.

“It also allows us to not necessarily focus on making a bunch of investments,” Le said. “We are selective and typically make one to two investments per year.”

This means that, unlike other venture capital firms, Accelerator has no safety in numbers. It invests heavily in a handful of companies, banking on those startups to succeed instead of diversifying and stepping back.

“We’re not here to bet on, like some venture firms, 15, 20 or 30 companies for each of the funds that we raise. We take a much more targeted approach to backing companies,” Le said. “And the hope is that by the amount of energy and effort that we put into these companies from day one, we hope that the companies that we back will be successful.”

For the startups that are chosen, a full-service offering is in store.

“What we have is a consortium of investors, we have access to space, we have a deep scientific expertise and we have the capacity to manage these companies when they’re getting started,” Le explained.

ApoGen will lay its new foundations in Seattle to access the West Coast resources of Accelerator. The University of Minnesota spin-out is developing technology that seeks to interfere with tumor mutations and thus limit drug-resistance.

ApoGen’s lead candidate is a potent small molecule inhibitor of A3B, a DNA cytosine deaminase, which is believed to fuel high mutation rates in cancers. According to the company website, A3B is believed to be a key driver of cancers including breast, head and neck, lung, bladder, cervical, ovarian, myeloma, and some blood cancers.

Accelerator is already deep into its hands-on planning phase, which was launched before the Series A round closed.

“In the case of ApoGen, we’ve already begun initiating the scientific development work that’s going to be needed for us to really tease out this area of science and develop it further,” Le said.

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