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  • Oncology Innovation Thrives Globally and in India, Despite Funding Challenges

    Published on March 2, 2024

     Bengaluru : In the fast-evolving landscape of the global oncology sector, Tracxn’s analysis reveals a narrative of groundbreaking innovation and funding trends. With over 5.5k companies worldwide and approximately 4k funded to date, the sector is at the forefront of redefining cancer treatment methodologies through advancements in AI, Robotics, and Genomic Sequencing. While remarkable progress has been made, there remains untapped potential, emphasizing the persistent need for simplified treatments and curative breakthroughs.

    In 2021, the Oncology space reached a zenith in VC funding, soaring to nearly $23.5B globally. However, subsequent years witnessed a downward trend, notably in 2023, marking the least funded year in the past five years. The overall funding for 2023 amounted to $9.2B, indicating a 24% drop from the $12.1B raised in 2022. The year 2024 has witnessed a funding of $424M to date.

    Early-stage funding in 2023 saw a decline of 30%, falling to $5.6B compared to the $8B raised in 2022. The highest early-stage funding was observed in 2021, with $13.6B. As of 2024, early-stage funding has reached $291M to date. Late-stage funding remained consistent, with $3.7 billion raised in both 2023 and 2022. The year 2020 recorded the highest late-stage funding at $10.6B, while 2024 has received $160M to date.

    The seed stage received a total funding of $384M in 2023, reflecting a 20% decrease from the $479M raised in 2022. 2021 was the most lucrative year for seed-stage funding, securing a total of $545M. Q1 2021 emerged as the highest-funded quarter with an overall funding of $7B, while Q1 2023 marked the least funded quarter in the last four years.

    Including 59 funding rounds in the past two years (2022 and 2023), the sector has recorded 293 $100 million+ rounds to date. Notable funding rounds include Grail’s $1.2B in 2018, making it the highest-valued funding round to date. Companies like Caris Life Science, Sana Biotechnology, Abogen Biosciences, and Moderna have raised funds above $500M. Freenome and Everest Medicines have garnered $290M and $280M, respectively, representing the highest-valued funding rounds in the past two years.

    This sector has witnessed the emergence of 12 Unicorn companies to date, with five achieving Unicorn status in 2021, followed by two each in 2022 and 2023. The United States leads the list of top-funded countries ($90.1B), contributing to over 60% of the total funding share of $136B.

    Top investors like Orbimed, EIC Fund, and RA Capital Management are pivotal in driving the Oncology sector. In the last two years, Y Combinator, Alexandria, and Proxima Ventures emerged as top seed investors, while Orbimed, Alexandria, and RA Capital Management took the lead in early-stage investments. RA Capital Management, Arch Venture Partners, and Pfizer have proven to be prominent late-stage investors, reaffirming the collective commitment to advancing innovation and transforming the landscape of oncology worldwide.

    Innovative Trends in the Indian Oncology Market

    In the dynamic landscape of the Oncology sector in India, the latest analysis unveils a compelling narrative of innovation, funding trends, and global impact. Perfint Healthcare has emerged as a frontrunner, securing $40.1M in total funding, leading a trail that includes Immuneel and Zumutor with $27.4M and $26.2M, respectively.

    A groundbreaking revelation is the dominance of the Oncology Drugs, securing $27.1M, with noteworthy contributions from key players like ImmunoACT and Immuneel. While Bengaluru takes the lead with the highest number of founded companies (20), the overall funding activity is experiencing a yearly decline, signalling a potential shift in focus.

    The Oncology sector includes over 5.5k startups worldwide, and in India, 94 companies have been established so far, with 55 of them successfully securing funding. The investment landscape mirrors a fluctuating journey, peaking in 2019 and showcasing Bengaluru’s prominence with $85.7M in total funding to date. Recent notable funding rounds for Cellogen Therapeutics and ImmunoACT underlines the ongoing investor interest and confidence in the sector.

    India has experienced just one acquisition involving Cipla so far. To date, India has seen only two initial public offerings (IPOs), in contrast to the 613 IPOs that have occurred worldwide.

    Despite the challenges, the Oncology sector continues to evolve, with innovative solutions leveraging AI, Robotics, and Genomic Sequencing.

    With 12 Unicorn companies to date and the US leading with over 60% of the total funding share, the future of oncology innovation seems promising. Top investors like Orbimed, EIC Fund, RA Capital Management, Y Combinator, Alexandria, and Proxima Ventures underscore the continued interest and support for groundbreaking ideas and solutions in the Oncology startup ecosystem. Global initiatives, such as the Cancer Grand Challenges program launched by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and Cancer Research UK in 2020, are fostering innovation by offering substantial funding for groundbreaking cancer research. Organizations like the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) contribute to this momentum by providing grants to support scientists at all career stages.

    As we navigate the complexities of cancer research and treatment, the innovative spirit and global collaboration within the Oncology sector continue to drive advancements, offering hope for a brighter future in the fight against cancer.


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