TORONTO & VANCOUVER, British Columbia & MONTREAL--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Versant Ventures today announced the acquisition of portfolio company BlueRock Therapeutics by Bayer AG for up to $1 billion in total value. For the firm, it represents another in a series of significant transactions by Versant-created companies founded on globally sourced cutting-edge science. Moreover, this achievement demonstrates the strong progress of Versant’s expanded operations in Canada.
Versant conceived and began to build BlueRock in late 2015 with conviction that stem cells had the potential to produce regenerative therapeutics based on fundamental advances achieved in cell differentiation, manufacturing and engineering. The initial seed phase spanned over 12 months allowing the necessary time to secure foundational technology from the McEwen Stem Cell Institute at the University Health Network in Toronto and the Stem Cell Center at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York, key management talent, intellectual property, as well as manufacturing expertise from partners.
In December 2016, BlueRock came out of stealth mode with a $225 million Series A round led by Versant and Bayer. Using this financing, the company expanded its ranks with an experienced team including more than 70 scientists at its Toronto-based R&D facility. Within that site, the company refined process development and manufacturing capabilities to more efficiently engineer and produce cell therapies at commercial scale, and advanced a portfolio across selected indications.
Under the terms of today’s transaction, Bayer will acquire the shares in BlueRock it did not already own for about $600 million, including about $240 million up front and up to $360 million in potential preclinical and early clinical milestone payments. Versant held more than 40% ownership in the company.
“The BlueRock transaction reinforces our current approach to identifying the most promising new scientific discoveries across multiple geographies,” said Brad Bolzon, Ph.D., managing director and chairman at Versant and BlueRock board director. “As a Canadian, I am particularly proud of the country’s contributions to the creation of a leading cell therapy company focused on therapeutics to reverse degenerative diseases.”
“Versant established a Canadian presence to identify untapped sources of innovation in emerging fields such as this. It is reassuring to see external recognition by a leading pharmaceutical company such as Bayer,” added Jerel Davis, Ph.D., managing director at Versant and BlueRock board director.
“We are grateful for Versant’s leadership in helping to grow the Canadian biotech venture ecosystem and in particular for their support in advancing our own mission to accelerate the translation of discovery to practice,” said Brad Wouters, Ph.D., executive vice president of science and research at UHN. “We look forward to collaborating on other new life science ventures.”
About Versant Ventures
Versant Ventures is a leading healthcare venture capital firm committed to helping exceptional entrepreneurs build the next generation of great companies. The firm’s emphasis is on biotechnology companies that are discovering and developing novel therapeutics. With $3.2 billion under management and offices in the U.S., Canada and Europe, Versant has built a team with deep investment, operating and R&D expertise that enables a hands-on approach to company building. Since the firm’s founding in 1999, 75 Versant companies have achieved successful acquisitions or IPOs. Versant is currently investing out of its seventh fund, Versant Venture Capital VII, a $600 million global biotech fund closed in December 2018. In parallel the firm co-invests out of its Canadian strategic fund Versant Voyageurs I and its later-stage biotech opportunity fund Versant Vantage I. For more information, please visit www.versantventures.com.