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June 15, 2017

New $300M Medicxi European Fund Draws Novartis, Verily as Investors

  • Novartis and Verily Life Sciences (formerly Google Life Sciences) have joined the European Investment Fund (EIF) as key investors in a new $300 million fund created by venture capital firm Medicxi to fund late-stage European life sciences companies.

    The new fund, Medicxi Growth 1 (MG1), is designed to fill what the investors say is a funding gap between the European companies and their U.S. counterparts attributed to the former having less access to local sources of capital.

    “The fund is dedicated to support primarily European biotech companies that have generated a strong clinical proof-of-concept (PoC) and that we feel should develop their compounds independently through a successful Phase IIb/Phase III regulatory approval and market entry,” Giuseppe Zocco, co-founder and partner at Medicxi, wrote in a post on Medicxi’s blog.

    “MG1 fills a clear need in the European venture sector and extends our platform capabilities to support entrepreneurial teams when it makes strategic sense to build a long-lasting, successful biotech company well beyond the early stages of its development,” said Zocco, who will oversee MG1’s creation of a dedicated growth team to be fully integrated within Medicxi.

    Zocco said MG1 plans to invest between €10 million and €25 million ($11.2 million and $27.9 million) in  promising biotech companies that have solid clinical data, focused on significant unmet medical needs, led by passionate and dedicated management teams capable to lead them through clinical development and regulatory approval. MG1 envisions those companies to be private or public, with at least one asset in Phase II or beyond that Medicxi believes can become a licensed pharmaceutical product meeting unmet medical needs.

    “Most of these companies will have created for themselves a clear path to becoming an integrated public company and to considering strategic partnership options with pharma from a position of strength,” Zocco added.

    Supporting MG1’s investment decisions, Medicxi said, will be a scientific advisory board that will include senior executives of Novartis and Verily, a company of Google owner Alphabet Inc.

    Joining Novartis and Verily as “cornerstone strategic” investors in MG1 are most of the institutional limited partnerships that backed Medicxi’s first fund, as well as several new investors, all undisclosed.

    Novartis’ participation in the new fund brings to three the number of pharma giants that have partnered with Medicxi.

    Medicxi was originally created at the venture capital firm Index Ventures, which raised a total of 12 funds, each managed by a separate life sciences and technology investment team. In February 2016, Index spun out its biotech investment arm as Medicxi, which operates from offices in London, Geneva, and Saint Helier (Jersey).

    Medicxi has two life sciences funds—MG1 and Medicxi Ventures 1, a €210 million ($234 million) fund that focuses on early-stage companies. Medicxi Ventures 1 was launched at the time of the Medicxi spinout and attracted as investors GSK and Johnson & Johnson Innovation–JJDC, J&J's strategic venture capital arm.

    Like Medicxi, Verily has partnered with other pharma giants. In September 2016, Verily joined Sanofi to launch a $500 million joint venture to develop a diabetes management platform that combines new treatments with devices, software, and professional care. A month earlier, Verily partnered with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to spend a combined £540 million ($601 million) over 7 years to research, develop, and commercialize bioelectronic medicines.

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