Evgen makes its bow on AIM

SHARES in drug development company Evgen Pharma made their debut on AIM today after a successful and over-subscribed placing.

The Liverpool company has raised £6.3m after expenses through the listing. It has placed 18.9m shares at 37p with institutional and other investors. Its market capitalisation at the placing price is £27m. In early trade the shares were trading higher at 42.5p.

The proceeds will be used to funding a Phase IIa study in metastatic breast cancer, a Phase II study in subarachnoid haemorrhage (a type of stroke), preclinical studies in multiple sclerosis and long-term safety and toxicology studies.

Evgen’s core technology Sulforadex is a patent-protected method of stabilising natural and synthetic versions of the naturally occurring compound sulforaphane, a known anti-cancer agent derived from broccoli and other brassica vegetables

Chief executive Dr Stephen Franklin said: “We are delighted to be joining the AIM market and would like to thank all investors for supporting this funding round and IPO.  The fundraising proceeds will allow us to advance a Phase IIa study in breast cancer and a Phase II study in subarachnoid haemorrhage along with preclinical work in multiple sclerosis.  We are very excited by the progress we are making with our Sulforadex technology, which has the potential to address orphan and major indications in multiple disease areas.”

Evgen Pharma is the eighth company backed by Manchester-based venture capital firm Enterprise Ventures to become listed on the stock market.
Enterprise Ventures backed the business from its inception.

Dr Mark Wyatt, investment director with Enterprise Ventures, said: “Evgen is a good example of an entrepreneur-led business.  We had backed Stephen before in a successful business so from the outset we knew the ‘people’ bit of the start-up was right, and that we had somebody we could work well with.   
“There have been substantial challenges to overcome in building this business, which is true for any start-up, but everybody involved has demonstrated great tenacity in moving it forward, and the admission to AIM is a positive next step in the company’s evolution.”
Other Enterprise Ventures’ investments which are listed on the public markets are Redx Pharma, Optiobiotix Health, Premaitha Health, Science in Sport and Provexis, all of which are in the healthcare and life sciences sector; crop technology company Plant Impact and cleaning technology business Xeros Technology Group.
Julian Viggars, head of technology investments at Enterprise Ventures, said: “Our portfolios contain some of the most exciting science and technology businesses in the UK. However investing in businesses like these requires a specialist knowledge and a long-term approach, as value is not created overnight. As experienced tech investors, we have to expect that we will see setbacks on the path to commercialisation and value.
“We have nurtured these businesses from the very start, and continue to support them through their capital journey. A listing was once seen as providing an exit for venture capitalists, but we are successfully using the public markets to provide businesses with additional investment capital to continue their long-term growth.”

SPARK Impact first invested in Evgen Pharma via the North West Fund for Biomedical in 2011.

SPARK Impact first invested in Evgen Pharma via the North West Fund for Biomedical in 2011.

Dr Marc d’Abbadie, investment director at SPARK Impact, commenting on today’s announcement, said: “We are delighted with Evgen Pharma’s progress, not least because of the value it has generated for the North West Fund for Biomedical but also as because it provides yet more evidence of the quality of the science and entrepreneurs in the North West Biocluster.”

Cliff Maylor, chief executive at The North West Fund, said: “Evgen Pharma’s oversubscribed IPO is a great example of the value that the North West Fund has delivered to the region by nurturing worldclass companies through the equity gap. We congratulate Evgen Pharma and look forward to seeing the company continue to grow.”

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