Bill and Melinda Gates-backed coronavirus vaccine maker soars in Wall Street debut

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(CNN) — The race for a successful coronavirus vaccine is heating up in labs around the world — and on Wall Street. Germany's CureVac, a biotech with the backing of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, more than tripled on its first day of trading Friday.

CureVac priced its initial public offering at $16 a share. The stock soared nearly 250%, to just below $56, by the end of the day.

The company, which is competing with the likes of Moderna, Novavax, BioNTech and Pfizer, is also backed by billionaire Dietmar Hopp, the co-founder of German software giant SAP.

Hopp owns nearly half of CureVac. The German government and Big Pharma leader GlaxoSmithKline also have big stakes.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the charitable arm of the multibillionaire Microsoft co-founder and his wife, invested $40 million in the company in 2015.

CureVac recently received approval from the governments of Germany and Belgium to start clinical trials for one of its vaccines for Covid-19.

The company generated €17.4 million ($20.6 million) in revenue in 2019, an increase of 35% from the prior year. It is not yet profitable.

CureVac also has another big name in its roster of partners: the firm is working on technology with Elon Musk's electric car giant Tesla. The company has had a development and intellectual property agreement with Tesla since November 2015, according to its regulatory filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Musk tweeted last month that Tesla's German Grohmann division is helping build molecule printers for CureVac — a "side project" that may work with other drug companies.

CureVac is one of several biotechs that has attracted attention from the Trump administration as well. The company denied published reports earlier this year that President Trump was seeking to get some of the company's German scientists to come to the United States to work on a vaccine.

Hopp has not ruled out the possibility of the company working more closely with the US, though.

He said in March that CureVac is "committed to the goal of protecting all people from infections and improving therapies for patients worldwide" and added that the company's intention is to create "sustainable innovative infrastructure and jobs in Germany."

This story was first published on Bill and Melinda Gates-backed coronavirus vaccine maker soars in Wall Street debut