European News Briefs, October 2011


Sofinnova Supports Accomplished Mission

Mission Therapeutics

, a new cancer-busting company, has sprung out of cell biology research at Cambridge University with the help of £6 million ($9.6 million) of venture capital.

Paris-based Sofinnova Partners led the Series A round, which also included London’s Imperial Innovations; SR One, the venture arm of GlaxoSmithKline; and Swiss biotech investor Roche Ventures.

Mission plans to use research on how cells respond to DNA damage to develop drugs that target enzymes involved in cancer and other diseases.

“Importantly, while having the potential to be effective by themselves, these drugs could also improve the effectiveness of existing cancer treatments, such as radiotherapy and certain chemotherapies,” said Mission co-founder Steve Jackson.

Jackson and the other founding scientists of Mission were also involved in another Cambridge biotech spin-out, Kudos Pharmaceuticals, which was bought by AstraZeneca for $210 million in 2005.


Thumbs Up for Multitouch

Government-owned Finnish Industry Investment (FII) senses potential at touch-screen developer Multitouch, which plans to expand its operations to Asia and China.

Investing €2 million ($2.8 million) alongside Veritas Pension Insurance, FII joins Vera, the seed fund of state-owned investor Finnvera, as shareholders in the company.

Multitouch’s interactive displays are designed for commercial use, such as in the consumer electronics retail segment. Its modular LCD screens can be used individually or stacked to create wall-sized interactive displays.

Following Multitouch, FII teamed up with Etera Mutual, another pension fund, to purchase 25% of Academica, which builds eco-friendly computer halls.

FII’s portfolio now numbers 75 direct investments, part of €670 million ($940 million) it has under management.


Creathor Rings Up Shopgate Purchase

Bad Homburg, Germany-based Creathor Venture Management GmbH has rung up a seven-figure investment in Shopgate, which provides shopping applications for mobile devices.

The German company gives small retailers access to mobile sales platforms, but its wider vision is to connect on- and offline advertising.

“Catalogs, print ads, bill inserts, shop windows, posters, menus and much more become interactive with Shopgate and turn them into real points of sale. The company has the potential to revolutionize the advertising industry,” said Creathor CEO Gert Köhler in a statement.

Shopgate will use the funding for global marketing and sales.


BASF Venture Arm Squeezes Into Labeled Genes

The venture arm of German chemicals giant BASF has led a €1.2 million ($1.7 million) round in DNA technology specialist Baseclick.

The company will use its second round of funding to strengthen current capabilities and to develop diagnostic tools. Its present technology allows users to label dye molecules on DNA strands, which enables scientists to search for pathogens, such as HIV, at a genetic level.

Baseclick, which spun out of Maximilians-Universität Munich in 2008 with the help of BASF, was founded by Thomas Carell, who advanced “click chemistry,” or molecule synthesization technology, to allow the modification of nucleic acids.

Private investors also participated in the latest financing round.


Deep Brain Stimulation Convinces Venture Firms

After thinking long and hard, Swiss biotech investors BioMedInvest and BB Biotech Ventures have co-led a €9.5 million ($13.3 million) funding of Aleva Neurotherapeutics, which produces implants for deep brain stimulation (DBS).

The Series A round, also backed by DEFI Gestion’s Initiative Capital Romandie fund, will support development of Aleva’s three DBS devices, used in the treatment of Parkinson’s and other neurological disorders.

Aleva, which spun out of Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in 2008, is now preparing its first product, an intelligent electrode called directSTIM, for clinical trials.

Basel, Switzerland-based BioMedInvest invested in Aleva through its second, CHF106 million ($122 million) fund.


RBVC Shakes On Hand Sensing Deal

A new investment from Robert Bosch Venture Capital (RBVC) has signaled the launch of Ident Technology’s gesture recognition chip for the consumer electronics market.

RBVC participated in a €7.1 million ($9.9 million) funding round alongside existing backers MIG Funds and Danube Equity.

The chip is for the fast-growing three-dimensional gesture control market, according to Roland Aubauer, CTO of Ident. Ident’s GestIC chip allows laptop and smartphone users to control their devices via movements of the hand or fingers in front of the screen.

The chip is also capable of simple touch recognition.

Although gesture recognition has already been commercialized for video games with the Kinect system for Microsoft’s Xbox, Ident says that its technology offers advantages in detection range, resolution, robustness and power consumption.


Lumicity Soaks up Solar Raise

Renewables investors Novusmodus and Ludgate Environmental Fund (LEF) have pumped £1 million ($1.6 million) each into solar photovoltaic installer Lumicity.

London-based LEF had previous invested £300,000 ($475,000) in the company in an early stage round in September 2010. Following the recent infusion, LEF now owns 46% of Lumicity.

Lumicity said it would use the new capital to begin construction of the first of 200 sub-50KW solar arrays, which it plans to install on the rooftops of schools, hospitals, car parks and warehouses.

Fellow backer Novusmodus is the venture arm of the Ireland’s Electricity Supply Board.


Energy Company Gets Funding Charge

Swedish energy storage provider SEEC has raised SEK9 million ($1.4 million) of funding to power a marketing drive.

Industrifonden joined previous investor Sting Capital and fellow Swedish venture firm Almi Invest in the round.

SEEC’s technology, which stores waste energy in the ground to either cool or heat properties, has been in use for three years. Examples include the reuse of energy from an ice rink to provide underground heating of a football pitch.

It is Industrifonden’s 10th investment of the year and its fourth in sustainable energy.

The firm’s other investments have been in life sciences and IT.

In May, the firm also pumped SEK20 million ($3 million) into the developers of an “invisible bicycle helmet,” a collar for cyclists that deploys an airbag in the event of an accident.


DTI Cracks UK Market

New York-based DTI Capital has debuted in the United Kingdom, backing the £4 million ($6.4 million) management buyout of security IT company WTG, which offers secure IT solutions.

The deal is the third investment for DTI Capital.

The company will use the funding to develop information integration products targeted at local and national government. The company’s technology allows its customers to share confidential information via secure email, online and collaborative platforms.

CEO Kieron Sambrook-Smith, who joined WTG in mid-2010, was previously with the secure information exchange company Boldon James, which he sold to defense group QinetiQ for £20 million ($31.5 million) in 2008.