Sophia Genetics gets $77m in funding as Mike Lynch steps down from biotech board

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Fri, 4th Jan 2019) London, Uk – –

Sophia Genetics has raised $77m (£61m) in a round led by Al Gore's Generation Investment Management, just days after Mike Lynch stepped down from his role on the biotech startup's board.

According to The Financial Times, as part of Generation Investment Management's investment and before Mr Lynch's indictment, the fund had “agreed with Sophia that Mr Lynch would step down from the board”.

“There was obviously noise around Invoke and the Autonomy investigation long ago, and we just thought it could prove a distraction for the company and that it would be in their best interest if he stepped down,” Lilly Wollman, of Generation Investment Management, said.

Last month, Mr Lynch agreed to step down from a number of his board positions, including his post at cyber security company Darktrace and on the Council of Science and Technology. 

It came after the US Department of Justice filed an indictment charging him on 14 counts of fraud – the latest twist in a six-year legal battle over the sale of Mr Lynch's software company Autonomy to Hewlett-Packard.

The DoJ claims that Mr Lynch, together with a former finance executive, artificially inflated revenues and misled auditors and analysts ahead of the 2011 $11.7bn tie-up. The year after HP bought Autonomy, it was forced to take a $8.8bn writedown on the deal. 

Lawyers for Mr Lynch had responded at the time saying the indictment was a “travesty of justice”, and that the “stale allegations are meritless and we reject them emphatically”. 

However, a spokesman for Mr Lynch's investment fund Invoke had said he had “decided to step away from some of his public facing roles whilst he focuses on clearing his name”, including giving up his post at Sophia Genetics.

Invoke will retain its board seat.

The latest funding round, announced on Friday by the Switzerland-based company, takes the total raised by Sophia Genetics to $140m, and also included investments from Balderton Capital and Idinvest Partners. 

Jurgi Camblong, Sophia's co-founder and chief executive, said: “We want to be ready in the next two years to afford an IPO and raise a substantial amount of capital because we believe there will be a health-tech player that will dominate this market.”

By  Hannah Boland