sideBack18-ark_dna_123x164Ark was initially seeded with $0.15m by Sir Chris when it was spun out in 1998 to develop primary gene medicines. Ark listed on the LSE in 2004 at $252m and grew rapidly to a value of $380m by 2006.

Ark was a finalist of the coveted European Descartes Prize in 2004 and winner of the Frost and Sullivan European Product Innovation of the Year Award in 2006. Ark’s growth has been impressive as it went from employing just 14 staff in 2001 to ten times that, 148 staff, just 5 years later in 2006, with laboratories in London and FDA-gene medicine manufacturing facilities in Finland.

ark_product2_127x93The technology behind Ark Therapeutics was spun out from University College London in 1998 by Sir Chris’s Merlin Ventures. The company’s focus was on gene therapy such as vascular endothelium growth factor (VEGF) and its potential role in treating arterial blockage following vascular surgery. This is a major problem following vascular surgery where an overgrowth of muscle cells occurs in the wall of the otherwise healthy blood vessels. This causes a partial or complete blockage of the blood vessel, which usually results in the need for further surgery. It is known that up to 60% of haemodialysis grafts will block within one year, such that repeat surgery must be performed. In these circumstances, the life expectancy of patients can be significantly shortened.

The company developed a diversified range of products in its portfolio. Its key targets were high value areas of unmet medical need within vascular disease, wound care and cancer – some of the largest therapeutic markets in the world.

ark_image_142x104It has made significant progress, and due recognition came when Ark won both the European Descartes Prize in 2004 and the Frost and Sullivan European Product Innovation Award in 2006. Employee numbers grew significantly and by 2007 the valuation of the business reached a staggering $380m.