The impressive rise of the Marseille start-up ImCheck Therapeutics

success story
The impressive rise of the Marseille start-up ImCheck Therapeutics
Pierre d'Epenoux, President of ImCheck Therapeutics - Photo ©Jean-Marie Huron
25 February 2020 / Biotech, Grow your business

ImCheck Therapeutics develops a next generation of immunotherapy antibodies.

Since its creation in 2015 in Marseille, the biotech start-up ImCheck Therapeutics has blown through development milestones! An extraordinary fund-raising round in December 2019 netted 48 million euros and the company was recently added to the government's French Tech 120 program, capping off more than four years of research on cancer and autoimmune disorders.

The first human trial of its ICT01 molecule is scheduled to take place in Europe this year and in the United States in 2021. The clinical development of the next generation of immunotherapy antibodies is under way.

Pierre d’Epenoux contacted Provence Promotion in 2017 when he became president of ImCheck Therapeutics. He was fully committed to the project and soon decided to leave Paris. Thus he began searching for the best real estate solution to provide a home for his family and a site for the growing company. Ultimately, he chose the CNRS complex in Marseille to house the company and its team, paving the way for further growth after an auspicious start in the laboratories at Institut Paoli-Calmettes (IPC).

With 20 years of experience in international operations management and strategic development at pharmaceutical and biotech groups, Pierre d’Epenoux was a great choice to oversee the expansion of ImCheck Therapeutics, which was founded to capitalize on the discoveries of Professor Daniel Olive, a leading researcher in Marseille. Since 2018, the management team has added two highly experienced executives: René Hoet of Dutch and Paul Frohna, an American, who respectively serve as Scientific Director and Medical Director. The promising start-up has already grown into a strong sapling in the French landscape.

Inclusion in the French Tech 120 program

In 2020, some 123 start-ups with high growth potential were selected to take part in the FT120 program. ImCheck Therapeutics is one of the eight French biotech companies chosen.

This prestigious program, launched by the government of France in 2019, aims to promote the emergence of worldwide leaders.

It offers high-level support in five areas:

  • international growth,
  • financing,
  • market access,
  • recruiting talent,
  • and managing government relations.

They receive assistance from a pool of civil servants representing 44 ministries and agencies, including URSAFF, the CNIL and DGCCRF, who are committed to meeting the companies' needs.

It is a prestigious distinction and an opportunity for ImCheck Therapeutics to accelerate its development in France and abroad.

Financial support and partnerships

ImCheck Therapeutics specializes in fighting cancer and autoimmune disorders and its work involves a community of top-tier researchers and investors.

In 2017, the start-up completed an impressive first round of financing with support from several investment funds: Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund (BIVF), Kurma Partners, Idinvest, Gimv and Life Science Partners (LSP).

The region's excellence in immuno-oncology means that ImCheck Therapeutics can continue its research and development in an environment conducive to scientific and clinical academic partnerships. The company is creating a pipeline of antibodies that can mobilize the immune system by targeting Gamma delta T cells.

ImCheck Therapeutics had a record-setting financing round with 48 million euros from Bpifrance and Pfizer Ventures, along with other new investors: Wellington Partners, Agent Capital and Alexandria Venture Investments.

With the start of ICT01 clinical trials, 2020 will be an important year for the start-up.