Biotech entrepreneur Sir Chris Evans upbeat on outlook for Vectura Group
A company created and financed by Port Talbot-born scientist and entrepreneur Professor Sir Chris Evans is poised for major growth as it brings new disease-treating products to market.
Vectura Group is a product development company focusing on the treatment of respiratory diseases and is a world leader in inhaled therapies.
The company’s shares have risen by 76% over the year on the back of significant progress in the development of its two primary products.
One, NVA237 – which will be marketed as Seebri inhalation capsules by partner Novartis – has been approved this year for use by the regulatory authorities in Japan and Europe. It is a once-daily inhaled treatment for patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Market analysts expect it to generate sales of more than $0.5bn per year.
Another product, QA149, is also being developed for asthma and COPD with Novartis for the US market. The FDA has this year approved the drug for phase III trials, which is a major step towards market. The company has also completed its European filing. Analysts expect this product to reach annual global peak sales of $1.5bn.
Vectura has partnerships with a number of major global pharmaceutical companies, including Sandoz, Baxter and Otsuka of Japan, covering products for asthma, haemophilia A and peritoneal dialysis treatments. It is also developing compounds for the treatment of cystic fibrosis and Parkinson’s disease.
The deals could bring in substantial profits to Vectura over the next five years, with analysts estimating Vectura’s revenues to rise to £42m in 2014.
Vectura is worth more than £300m on the London Stock Exchange, a growth of nearly 700% since it was listed in July 2004 by Sir Chris Evans at a valuation of £39m. He founded the business in 1998 with a £100,000 investment of his own money and followed that with further investments from the Merlin Ventures and Merlin Bioscience Funds.
Sir Chris said: “I’m delighted that Vectura seems to be going from strength to strength as it matures in this important British industry. The UK biotech industry desperately needs more success now and with some scale. Vectura could realistically become a billion pound FTSE biotech business in the next few years. I look forward to it and am proud to have been associated with its formation.”
Sir Chris is chairman of the Welsh Life Sciences Sector Panel. In March, along with Minister for Business Edwina Hart, he launched his Vision for Welsh Life Sciences, including a £100m fund and creation of a high profile hub in Wales from which to catalyse the transformation of the industry.
Sir Chris said: “I’m excited about the prospects of the life sciences sector in Wales, and provided everyone from senior Government officials through to leading academics, entrepreneurs and business people operating in this space put their full weight behind this vision, Wales will see substantial growth and success in the next several years.”
The fund managers of the Life Sciences Fund will be announced next month.
The management of the new £100m fund is part of an open tendering process being handled by the Welsh Government’s investment bank subsidiary, Finance Wales. While there are no legal restrictions on Finance Wales also making a bid to manage the fund, it is understood that they have not tendered.
The Welsh Government has committed £25m to the fund this year. It is also expected to commit a further £25m next.
The appointed fund managers are expected to bolster the fund by raising a further £50m.