High profile biotech startup gets funding from family offices and UK aristocrat

Dragonfly Therapeutics, a biotech group developing drugs to stimulate immune responses against cancer, has received backing from family offices and the Duke of Bedford, one of the UK’s wealthiest aristocrats.

The Massachusetts-based startup said last week that Celgene Switzerland, an affiliate of Celgene Corporation, a global biopharmaceutical company, and a number of family office investors including Disney family members and the Duke of Bedford, have completed a new round of investment in Dragonfly. The funding amount wasn’t disclosed.

The Duke of Bedford is one of the UK’s wealthiest aristocrats with The Sunday Times Rich List recently estimating his wealth at close to $1 billion. Interestingly, the current Duke, Andrew Ian Henry Russell, went to Harvard probably about the same time as Tyler Jacks did. Jacks is one of the founders of Dragonfly. This possible connection might partly suggest the reasoning behind the Duke’s foray into the world of startups given that much of his wealth is linked to extensive property holdings.

One of the Disney family members mentioned above is likely to be Tim Disney, the great-nephew of Walt Disney, who’s backed Dragonfly in the past.

As earlier reported by Family Capital, Dragonfly likes getting money from family offices as opposed to venture capital firms. Tyler Jacks, one of America’s top cancer specialists and a co-founder of Dragonfly, said family offices were quicker to commit than venture capital firms.