The trickle of genomics and proteomics platform companies moving into drug development has become commonplace over the past year, and venture capitalists clearly are willing to put up big money to help selected companies make the transition.

The latest companies to announce moves out of the pure platform space into drug development are Inpharmatica Ltd. (London, U.K.) and Signature BioScience Inc. (Hayward, Calif.). Inpharmatica, a structural bioinformatics company, last week raised £31.25 million ($44.2 million) in a series B round, giving the company a post-money valuation of £56 million ($79 million). Signature was to announce today a $43 million financing.

"I think this is a very logical transition for some platform companies," said Daniel Green, a director at Dresdner Kleinwort Capital, lead investor on the Inpharmatica deal. "You've got the reassurance of the income from the platform and then the potential for a very big upside coming from product development. We've been interested in this kind of investment for some time now."

Inpharmatica: Beyond subscriptions

Indeed, such transactions have become easier as VCs raise larger funds, which in turn has led to larger individual rounds. Inpharmatica's placement also is in keeping with the emerging trend towards larger, internationally subscribed, private rounds for biotech in Europe. The deal is the second largest European placement this year, following the $46.9 million raised by cancer play Cyclacel Ltd. (Dundee, U.K.), and ranks sixth overall in Europe since 1994