Another British tech firm opts for a New York listing as UK’s science superpower dreams fade
A Cheshire biotech start-up led by a former NHS doctor has floated in New York today after snubbing London’s market due to a dearth of specialised investors.
Zura Bio, led by Oxford graduate Dr Someit Sidhu, announced it had merged with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) JATT acquisition corp this morning in a deal that will raise $65m, which will be pumped into its research and development pipeline.
Sidhu will now lead the newly-merged outfit as it ramps up its production of commercial late-stage drugs for immune and inflammatory conditions.
The deal comes after a series of blows to the UK’s capital markets as firms ditch London in favour of New York. Cambridge chipmaker Arm said it would snub the City for Nasdaq earlier this month, while building supplier CRH said it would swap its listing for New York.
London Stock Exchange officials and regulators have been looking to overhaul capital markets rules in a bid to tempt more tech firms to come to market in London.
Speaking with City A.M. today, Sidhu – who sold his previous biotech firm Izana Bioscience to a US partner before that firm floated in New York – said the UK still lacked the specialised investor and “deep pockets” to win round tech firms.
“There are great ideas in the UK, but we need to work harder in bringing those all the way through to commercial realisation rather than just doing the initial stages of research, which we have traditionally done very, very well,” he said.
“I think the biggest chasm in the UK versus the US is that level of investor appetite and ability to get investors excited around late stage ideas which are close to commercial potential,” he added.
Sidhu said that his first biotech firm and Zura have “ended up taking the US path forward” but the initial work was “all done in the UK”.
“I’d love to sit in London and get it all done,” he added.
His comments come amid a push from the government to boost UK as a science and tech superpower, which is investing £370m and introducing measures designed to boost innovation in the UK.
The plans have come under fire from tech chiefs, however. Former Sage chief and the chair of Tech Nation Stephen Kelly told City A.M. earlier this month that more is needed to “set a clear vision”, and the plans lacked financial heft.