This is a blog post only, part of our coverage of interesting topics. This time we want to talk about CureVac, a German biotech company. They are also the 2nd company to start human trials for coronavirus vaccination in Germany, just behind Mainz-based, NASDAQ listed BioNTech.
The White House Approach
The story started out with media reports in Germany (news broken by Welt am Sonntag), that the CEO of CureVac (Daniel Menichella) has been invited to the White House to discuss coronavirus vaccine development with President Trump. This lead to an upset German public, because the White House reportedly wanted the vaccine for the US and its citizens exclusively. The Guardian has a good article wrapping up some press reactions here. According to the reports the US offered up to 1 bn US$ to the startup to relocate to the United States and produce there for the US exclusively.
The Curevac Investors
The counter-reactions included one of the investors of CureVac, SAP Co-Founder, and billionaire Dietmar Hopp. Mr. Hopp is one of Germany’s leading biotech investors is with an estimated net worth of 16.4 bn US$ also an investor with deep pockets. CureVac is worth $1.7 billion, according to CB Insights. Hopp owns more than 80% of its shares and according to CB Insights invested a total of $189 million into the company.
USA Today quotes him as: “it was not an option” for the company to develop the vaccine exclusively for the United States.
There are other investors invested in Curevac including, but not limited to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others. You can find more investors in their Crunchbase profile.
Investments in Curevac
In this aftermath, the European Investment Bank approved 75 mn Euros equity investment in CureVac (in April), which equals 85 mn US$. Now comes the new and newsworthy part, the German Government also chips in 300 mn Euros via KfW (a wholly government-owned and operated bank). The investment was announced on June 15th, 2020 (Link to the press release of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy).
It is worth noting that this is the very first direct investment of the German government in a biotech company and shows a significant level of support for this single company. The press echo was positive from some (like Welt, which is part of the publishing house, which broke the news) and negative by others. We want to highlight just one negative comment in the business newspaper Handelsblatt, whose author saw this investment as a problem since there is no exit strategy.
Clinical trials started already
Meanwhile, the clinical human trials for Curevac already started.
We will keep you updated