First exit in BII's history: Novo Nordisk acquires Embark Biotech - BioInnovation Institute

First exit in BII’s history: Novo Nordisk acquires Embark Biotech

First exit in BII’s history: Novo Nordisk acquires Embark Biotech

Embark Laboratories announced today that Novo Nordisk has acquired Embark Biotech, including its lead metabolic program, and has entered a three-year research and development collaboration to discover and develop novel pharmaceuticals to treat obesity and related co-morbidities.

Under the acquisition agreement for Embark Biotech, Novo Nordisk receives the full rights to develop and commercialize the lead program, while the Embark shareholders will receive 15 million Euro in upfront cash payment and are eligible to receive potential development, regulatory, and commercial milestones of up to 456 million Euro.

The research and development collaboration with Embark Laboratories provides Novo Nordisk with the option to acquire selected assets based on the Embark Biotech discovery across several indications, including obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Boosting the ecosystem

This achievement comes only two years after the Embark team entered BII’s Venture House program with initial financial support of EUR 1.3M. However, it’s no secret that the road to success for an early-stage therapeutics startup can be bumpy. Embark Biotech’s journey is no different.

“When we started at BII, our drug discovery platform still needed maturation to be commercially attractive. Furthermore, at that time, there was much less investment willingness in the obesity and cardiometabolic disease space. Thus, BII’s help was vital for the company. We are grateful they supported us early so we could mature our science further in their vibrant incubation environment with access to state-of-the-art laboratories and business development experts. Their help has been crucial for our success,” says CEO of Embark Laboratories, Casper Tind Hansen.

Embark Biotech was spun out in 2017 from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research (CBMR) at the University of Copenhagen. Associate Professor Zach Gerhart Hines, former postdoctoral fellow Jakob Bondo Hansen, and Professor Thue W. Schwartz discovered a novel target that suppresses appetite, increases energy expenditure, and enhances insulin sensitivity. Besides support from BII, the development of the target was initiated via an early collaboration with Novo Nordisk and the Novo Nordisk Foundation and further matured through support and guidance from the InnoBooster program at the Innovation Fund Denmark.

Thus, Embark’s success is also a clear signal of a robust Danish life science ecosystem.

“This deal and Embark’s success are direct products of the unique, innovative ecosystem in Denmark that has been cultivated by the BioInnovation Institute and the University of Copenhagen and initiatives from the Novo Nordisk Foundation and the Innovation Fund Denmark, ” says CTO of Embark Laboratories, Zach Gerhart Hines.

A fairytale story

While Novo Nordisk’s acquisition of Embark Biotech represents the first exit in BII’s history, it follows other great success stories, including Adcendo, Stipe Therapeutics, Twelve Bio, and Cirqle Biomedical. According to CBO at BioInnovation Institute, Bobby Soni, this proves that BII, through its incubation programs, has found an excellent approach to working with early-stage life science innovation.

“In the case of Embark, the company had a promising discovery platform but lacked financial support when the field of obesity and cardiometabolic diseases was not as prominent as today. As a non-profit foundation, we can take such risks and support impact-driven science and great teams. Through our innovation program, BII has supported Embark in reaching this fantastic milestone. We are also happy that Embark Laboratories will still be a part of the life science ecosystem so they can share their experiences and learnings with other life science entrepreneurs,” he says.

Read more on Embark Laboratories’ webpage.

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