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LIT Questum Startup raises €7.4m as they work to improve treatment options for cancer patients


03 June 2020

Shorla Pharma, an Irish healthcare company that develops drugs to help cancer patients, based at the LIT Questum Enterprise Acceleration Centre in Tipperary has announced it has raised an $8.3m (€7.4m) investment.

The company was founded by the 2019 Irish Best Young Entrepreneur, Sharon Cunningham, and Orlaith Ryan.

Shorla focuses on clinical situations where existing treatments are limited, in shortage or inadequate for the target population, such as paediatric cancers.

The financing was led by Seroba Life Sciences, a European Venture Capital firm headquartered in Dublin, with additional investment from Irish and Canadian based family offices and participation from Enterprise Ireland. The funding will support the advancement of the product pipeline, along with the expansion of operations in both Ireland and the US.

President of LIT, Professor Vincent Cunnane, commented: “The progress that Sharon and Orlaith continue to make in their venture in the incredibly important area of cancer treatment is phenomenal. Member clients at Questum have the valuable support of a community which includes Entrepreneur in Residence Tom Brennan, co-founder of EirGen Pharma & Trivium Vet and Pat McGrath who led PM Group to global success. Together with our partners, Tipperary County Council, we’re very proud to be supporting Shorla in one of our Enterprise Centres.”

Alan O'Connell, a Partner at Seroba who has joined the Shorla board, said, "We're delighted to support an Irish company with such a promising pipeline of products designed to improve treatment options for cancer patients. Shorla is led by experienced founders with a track record of success in the sector and we look forward to working with them to grow the company and bring their products to market."

Speaking about the investment, Orlaith Ryan of Shorla said, "This significant investment will provide the necessary resource to further advance the product pipeline through health authority registration and commercialization which will ultimately create valuable and clinically impactful treatments that improve patient outcomes." 

Commenting about the support from Seroba, Sharon Cunningham added, "Seroba is a leading venture capital firm in the global life sciences industry and they, along with other participants in the investment syndicate bring invaluable experience to Shorla and have a proven track record in the pharmaceutical sector. We're confident that we have the right partners to support us in executing our vision."

Julie Sinnamon, CEO, Enterprise Ireland, said, "We are delighted to support Shorla and to be part of this investment round. Ireland is widely recognised as a center for the global life sciences industry as well as a leader in medtech and pharmaceutical manufacturing. Helping to maintain that reputation, Shorla, led by two female founders, is a highly innovative company developing new solutions to critical issues in the oncology area. It is also particularly heartening to see this company starting in a regional location. Earlier this year, the Enterprise Ireland 'Action Plan for Women in Business' cited that less than 10 percent of VC funding is going to companies with women founders. This investment is consistent with that action plan in terms of developing a larger number of companies of scale led by female founders. It is fantastic to have a role model like Shorla to demonstrate what's possible. I wish the team luck with the project and congratulate the company on its success to date."