Helsinki-based biotech startup TILT Biotherapeutics has raised €12 million including €5.9 million equity from the European Innovation Council (EIC) Fund, a €2.1 million grant from EIC’s Accelerator programme, investments from Stephen Industries Inc Oy and ACME Investments SPF Sàrl. This follows on from the first close of €10 million in June 2022. The financing was led by Finland’s Lifeline Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm founded by serial entrepreneurs. With the acquired funds, the company will take a giant leap towards their goal of enhancing its Phase II trials, which blends the power of oncolytic immunotherapies and checkpoint inhibitors to achieve unprecedented results.
TILT Biotherapeutics develops cancer therapeutics based on its proprietary oncolytic adenoviruses armed with molecules including cytokines that can stimulate, or suppress T-cells. The company’s patented TILT® technology, which can be delivered locally and systemically, modifies the tumour microenvironment and eliminates its ability to suppress immune responses to cancer, thereby enhancing T-cell therapies such as immune checkpoint inhibitors, tumour infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapy, and CAR T therapies.
The EIC Fund is TILT’s first significant international investor. The EIC investment decision followed a due diligence process by the European Investment Bank, which supports the EIC Fund as Investment Advisor.
TILT Biotherapeutics’ founder and CEO, Akseli Hemminki, a cancer clinician who has personally treated hundreds of cancer patients with oncolytic viruses, said, “We’re pleased to have achieved this round of €22 million to advance our promising pipeline of armed oncolytic viruses. Our trials are progressing well through Phase I, and this new funding will support us in progressing them into Phase II, another key step for these new therapies to reach patients in a range of cancers”.
Timo Ahopelto, Founding Partner of Lifeline Ventures, said, “We invest in future category-leading companies with strong founders, and support them through their growth. We saw the potential in TILT’s cancer immunotherapies early on and continue to build on that potential in Europe as well as the U.S. market with this funding round.”
Hermann Hauser, a member of the EIC Fund Board said, “Combining grants and equity is unique to the European Innovation Council. It bridges the funding gap for highly innovative companies, unlocks additional private investments and enables them to scale up in Europe.”
The heart of TILT’s innovative approach revolves around the use of armed oncolytic adenoviruses, using cytokines and other molecules to boost the patient’s immune response to better enable it to find and destroy cancer cells. The company is advancing its pipeline of programs including its lead asset TILT-123, in further clinical trials, including in combination with immune checkpoint inhibitors.