February 20, 2024

UK biotech Baseimmune raises £9m to develop ‘mutation-proof’ vaccines

The startup will use the new funds to begin developing more potential vaccine candidates

UK vaccine discovery biotech Baseimmune has raised £9m, according to Companies House filings taken from Beauhurst. 

The round appears to have featured UK deeptech VC IQ Capital, which was registered on Companies House as a director at Baseimmune in early January, just before the startup filed the raise. 

Existing backer Hoxton Ventures — which led the company’s previous $4.8m raise in 2021 — confirmed its involvement to Sifted. Baseimmune and IQ Capital did not provide further comment on the fundraise.


Future-proof vaccines

Baseimmune says it can design vaccines to be effective against known diseases, but also against future variants of that disease. For an example that’s all too familiar to many of us after the pandemic, Baseimmune says that it was able to correctly predict Covid variants like Alpha and Delta using its algorithm.

Vaccines tend to traditionally contain a single antigen — a molecule that targets a single component of a pathogen (the part of a disease that triggers our immune response). 

But Baseimmune’s prediction algorithm analyses genomic, epidemiological, immunological, clinical and evolutionary data to create artificial antigens drawn from the entire pathogen’s genome — rather than a single component. This makes it possible to develop future-proof vaccines that can protect against potential mutations, according to the company. 

“I like to think of a vaccine as a dart. Diseases are constantly moving, evolving and changing,” Joshua Blight, CEO and cofounder of Baseimmune, told Sifted back in 2021. “Normally you throw the dart but the dartboard moves before it can hit the target. We know where the dartboard will be when the dart actually hits.”

The startup’s pipeline currently includes two human vaccines against malaria, a coronavirus vaccine and a veterinary inoculation against African swine fever. 

Startups like Baseimmune tend to make money by developing a promising vaccine candidate and then selling it to a pharmaceutical company for an upfront fee, as well as earning royalties on distribution. 

Baseimmune hasn’t publicly announced any deals yet. 

The startup will use the new funds to begin developing more potential vaccine candidates, according to Hoxton Venture’s Hussein Kanji. 

Techbio booming

Baseimmune’s raise comes off the back of a good year in the techbio sector, which saw startups pick up $5.6bn in funding, according to Dealroom, just shy of the $6.2bn raised in 2022. 

That’s a far shorter drop than European tech funding as a whole, which fell from $98.6bn to $61.9bn. 

This investor confidence is partly due to the upcoming “patent cliff” faced by big pharmaceutical companies. As a number of drug patents expire in the years to 2030, it could see them lose hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue. 


It means many pharmaceutical companies are looking to acquire startups that have already begun work on potential drugs to bolster their pipelines, investors tell Sifted.

It’s an “unprecedented opportunity” and presents “loads more opportunities to exit”, says Christoph Massner, principal at Earlybird’s healthtech fund.

There’s also pharma’s increasing willingness to adopt new tech, shortening the time it takes for startups to sell to or partner with pharma, says William McQuillan, partner at Frontline Ventures.

Shorter sales cycles make it easier for startups to become revenue-generating quicker, he adds. “[Lead time to sell into pharma] has dropped to at least half if not a third [of what it was five years ago].”

Editorial note: After publishing this article the FT released an article stating that the amount raised was $14m (£11m).

Kai Nicol-Schwarz

Kai Nicol-Schwarz is a reporter at Sifted. He covers UK tech and healthtech, and can be found on X and LinkedIn