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June 30, 2014

Top 17 Corporate Venture Funds

Meet the organizations biotech or biopharma innovators want to get to know.

Top 17 Corporate Venture Funds

Need to get your startup off the ground? These funds may help. [© romantiche - Fotolia.com]

  • Following is a list of 17 venture funds established by top pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies based on revenue, ranked by total size. Corporate venture funds are listed with their name; resources; current portfolio (mostly companies, though some funds invest in other funds); figure or range of investment per company, with ranges for initial investments where provided; investment preferences; and year established. Data for the list originated with the websites of the funds, with the findings emailed to corporate spokespeople for verification and, more often than not, updating with current figures on portfolio companies and investment ranges. In some cases, results vary with earlier-published figures or information.

    The list does not include funds formed jointly in recent years by corporate venture funds and venture capital firms, mostly to develop early-stage companies and their therapeutics. Those were the subject of a separate list last year.

    Like last year’s list, this year’s edition continues to show a “sweet spot” for corporate venture funds of between $100 million and $250 million; 10 of the funds listed had total resources in that range, one more than last year, reflecting the move of MP Healthcare Venture Management (MPH; Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Group) into the ranked funds with its $100 million size.

    One noticeable difference from last year’s list, however, is the absence of Shire’s Strategic Investment Group, which appears to be history. A link to its website now connects users to Shire’s “Business Development” page, while the executive who oversaw the group left the company last year to form her own firm.

  • #17. MS Ventures Israeli Bioincubator Fund (Merck KGaA)

    Resources: €10 million ($13.6 million)

    Current portfolio: Three companies as of November 26, 20131,2

    Amount of investment: Figure unavailable; focused on Israeli pre-seed and seed opportunities. Offers both seed financing and access to facilities at Merck Serono’s Inter-Lab Research and Development Center in Yavne, Israel.

    Investment preferences: Startups with potential for developing innovations with future application in the company’s areas of focus. Fund is designed to stimulate innovation by investing in biomedical innovation in Israel that bridges the gap between academic research and the biotechnology industry.

    Year established: 2011

  • #16. Novartis Korea Venture Fund

    Resources: Commitment of $20 million over five years

    Current portfolio: Three companies3

    Amount of investment: Ranges from $1 million to $3 million4

    Investment preferences: Early-stage investing in innovative life sciences companies, with a focus on diseases prevalent in Asia

    Year established: 2008

  • #15. Merck Serono Entrepreneur Partnership Program (EPP; Merck KGaA)

    Resources: €30 million ($40.8 million) fund created following the decision to close Merck Serono’s Geneva site, and initially aimed at reducing the impact on local employment.

    Current portfolio: Eight companies as of December 2, 2013, all spun off by Geneva-based Merck Serono contractors or employees5

    Amount of investment: Figure not available5

    Investment preferences: Creation of spin-off and startup companies focused on continuing activities and compounds that originated at Merck Serono6

    Year established: 2012

  • #13. (tie) MP Healthcare Venture Management (MPH; Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Group)

    Resources: $100 million fund.7 Firm is a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp., one of five businesses of Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp.

    Current portfolio: Eight companies8

    Amount of investment: $5 million7

    Investment preferences: Seed to late-stage life sciences companies based principally in North America and Europe, usually as part of an investment syndicate with other leading VC firms. MPH invests in companies developing novel therapeutics (small molecule and biotherapeutics), technology platforms, diagnostics, and vaccines. MPH is interested in novel drugs and diagnostics in various disease areas including cardiovascular, immunology and inflammation, metabolic disease, nephrology, neuroscience, and stroke

    Year established: 2006

  • #13. (tie) Lilly Asian Ventures

    Resources: $100 million

    Current portfolio: 12 companies9

    Amount of investment: $5 million to $15 million per company. Fund only takes a minority stake in a company (<20%). In most cases, the fund desires a board seat or observation rights.9

    Investment preferences: Companies in the life sciences and healthcare industries that are growing rapidly and emerging as market leaders, as well as companies developing innovative products with significant impact on medical care in China and around the world. The most typical stage of investment is growth stage, though the fund has also invested in early stage and pre-IPO opportunities. Primary focus is pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, though the fund has also invested in devices and diagnostics, healthcare services (hospitals, clinics, etc.), animal health, and specialties that include industrial biotechnology, agricultural biotechnology, and nutraceuticals.

    Year established: 2008

  • #11. (tie) MS Ventures (Merck KGaA)

    Resources: €100 million ($136 million) main fund

    Current portfolio: 18 companies10

    Amount of investment: Figure or range per company unavailable11

    Investment preferences: Primarily early stage investments in companies that develop products and/ or technologies that could benefit patients in therapeutic areas relevant to Merck Serono. Company’s core therapeutic areas include autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, endocrinology, fertility, neurodegenerative diseases, oncology, and rheumatology.

    Year established: 2009

  • #11. (tie) Boehringer Ingelheim Ventures

    Resources: €100 million ($136 million)

    Current portfolio: 12 companies and one fund-in-fund investment

    Amount of investment: Opening investments of up to €2 million ($2.7 million) per venture at the early stage, with subsequent staged investments intended to align with each venture’s progress, up to a total of €10 million ($13.6 million) to €15 million ($20.4 million) per venture over the life of a company.

    Investment preferences: Significant enhancements in patient care through innovative and pioneering science including (but not limited to) addressing underexplored targets and indications; T-cell and other next-generation vaccines; next-generation NBEs such as cancer immunotherapeutics; regenerative medicine; and new platforms for identifying targets and biomarkers

    Year established: 2010

  • #7. (tie) Novartis Option Fund

    Resources: Initial fund of $200 million toward seed innovative startup companies during their earliest stages

    Current portfolio: Nine companies12

    Amount of investment: $20 million to $25 million over the life of a company. The initial equity investment can be coupled with an option to a specific therapeutic program giving early validation for the startup company’s technology12

    Investment preferences: Early-stage, high-risk areas enabling the development of novel programs and technologies

    Year established: 2007

  • #7. (tie) Lilly Ventures

    Resources: $200 million under management

    Current portfolio: 15 companies11,13

    Amount of investment: $5 million to $15 million per company

    Investment preferences: Biotech companies that leverage proprietary drug discovery or development technologies to build a multi-product pipeline. Companies focused on the convergence of devices with pharmaceuticals or diagnostics. Focused on North American and European regions.

    Year established: 2001

  • #7. (tie) Baxter Ventures

    Resources: $200 million

    Current portfolio: 11 investments, most being direct investment in companies, with the rest being investments in life sciences venture funds

    Amount of investment: A typical equity investment is $1 million to $5 million initial investment, with a potential of investing up to $10 million over the life of the company.

    Investment preferences: Companies with innovative technologies, products, and therapies with the potential to improve patient care globally and maximize value for investors and entrepreneurs. Focus areas include therapeutic areas complementary to those of Baxter's existing Medical Products and BioScience businesses,14 as well as cutting-edge technologies and therapies outside of Baxter’s current product portfolio that have sustainable long-term growth potential.

    Year established: 2011

  • #7. (tie) Amgen Ventures

    Resources: $200 million in two funds: Amgen Ventures I, a $100 million fund founded 2004; and Amgen Ventures II, a $100 million fund founded 2012

    Current portfolio: 12 companies—12 in Amgen Ventures I; three in Amgen Ventures II

    Amount of investment: Typically $3 million to $5 million investment, and may invest up to $15 million over the life of the company.

    Investment preferences: Early-stage to early clinical companies developing human therapeutics. While the focus is primarily in areas of current therapeutic interest to Amgen—which include oncology, inflammation, hematology/nephrology, metabolic disorders, neuroscience, and cardiovascular—Amgen Ventures also seeks novel modalities with potential to address targets in both current and emerging therapeutic areas of interest. The fund will also review companies developing drug delivery and monitoring devices. Amgen Ventures seeks investments in North America, Europe, and the U.K.

    Year established: 2004

  • #6. Astellas Venture Management (AVM)

    Resources: More than $200 million under management

    Current portfolio: 11 companies—10 funded via Astellas Venture Fund I, managed since 2005; one via Astellas Venture Capital since 200015

    Amount of investment: Figure or range unavailable

    Investment preferences: Privately owned biotechnology companies focused on discovering human therapeutics. AVM seeks companies with potential to become Astellas Pharma’s collaboration partners in R&D, in disease fields aligned with Astellas’ priority therapeutic categories of kidney diseases, immunology, neuroscience, oncology, and urology. Interested in relatively early-stage biotechnology companies that have not yet begun testing their products in clinical trials, as well as have programs at very early stages of clinical trials.16

    Year established: 1999

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