Alex Philippidis Senior News Editor Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

Specializing in Showing Biotech or Biopharma Innovators the Money

The shift from fully integrated pharmaceutical companies (FIPCOs) to virtually integrated pharma companies (VIPCOs) has made biopharmas more reliant on external R&D. Often, that external R&D comes from startups nurtured through the venture funds of biopharma giants.

This year’s List offers three significant changes since last year’s ranking of corporate venture funds. One is the exclusion of Novo Ventures and Novo Seeds from the list, since the funds do not invest for the benefit for Novo Nordisk, but for its holding company Novo A/S.  While Novo has significant stakes in Novo Nordisk and Novozymes, its venture investments are fully independent of the two major Novo Group companies, says Heather Ludvigsen, venture auditor with Novo Ventures. Other changes since 2014 include the presence of Baxalta Ventures, the fund launched following Baxter International’s spinout of its Baxter BioScience business into Baxalta, as well as the inclusion of Takeda Ventures. 

GEN’s list of venture funds established by top pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies is based on revenue, ranked by total size. It is followed by another seven funds that are unranked because their fund size or other details are unavailable. 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, updated 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 are the subject of a separate GEN List last published in July 2014.

#15. MS Ventures Israel Bioincubator Fund (Merck KGaA)

Resources: €10 million (about $11 million) fund within MS Ventures.

Current portfolio: Three companies1,2

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

Investment preferences: Biopharma, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical 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

#14. 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

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

Resources: €30 million (about $33 million) fund within MS Ventures. EPP created following the decision to close Merck Serono’s Geneva site, and initially aimed at reducing the impact on local employment. Company sees program as the basis for support of potential spinoffs in the future.

Current portfolio: Five companies, all spun off by Geneva-based Merck Serono contractors or employees

Amount of investment: €500,000 (about $552,500) to €10 million (about $11 million) over the lifetime of the company

Investment preferences: Creation of spin-off and start-up companies focused on continuing activities and compounds that originated at Merck Serono5

Year established: 2012

#12. MP Healthcare Venture Management (MPH; Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Group)

Resources: $100 million fund.6 Firm is a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma, one of five businesses of Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings.

Current portfolio: Eight companies7

Amount of investment: $5 million8

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 therapies (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

#11. Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund (BIVF)

Resources: €100 million (about $110.5 million)

Current portfolio: 14 companies

Amount of investment: Opening investments of up to €2 million (about $2.2 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 (about $11 million) to €15 million (about $16.6 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 “undrugable” targets that are poorly amenable to either current NCEs or NBEs, 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

#10. MS Ventures (Merck KGaA)

Resources: €140 million (about $155 million) main fund9

Current portfolio: 21 companies9

Amount of investment: Figure or range per company unavailable

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: 200

#7-9. (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: 18 companies—12 in Amgen Ventures I; six 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 startups through later-stage companies focused on therapeutics, platforms and other technologies that support the effective utilization of the company’s therapies. Amgen Ventures seeks opportunities that match Amgen’s strategy and expand its capabilities in oncology, cardiovascular, inflammation, bone health, nephrology, metabolic disorders, neuroscience, and discovery research and technology. Amgen Ventures seeks investments in North America, Europe, and the U.K, with the goal of supporting innovation and building relationships in areas that offer great promise for the future.

Year established: 2004

#7-9. (tie) Lilly Ventures

Resources: $200 million under management

Current portfolio: 19 companies10

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 multiproduct pipeline; companies focused on the convergence of devices with pharmaceuticals or diagnostics; primarily North American and European regions

Year established: 2001

#7-9. (tie) Novartis Option Fund

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

Current portfolio: Nine companies

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 start-up company’s technology10

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

Year established: 2007

#6. Astellas Venture Management (AVM)

Resources: More than $200 million under management

Current portfolio: 12 companies11

Amount of investment: Figure or range unavailable

Investment preferences: Privately owned biotechnology companies focused on discovering and developing 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 immunology, kidney disease, neuroscience, oncology, urology, muscle disorders and ophthalmology. 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.12

Year established: 1999

#5. Merck Research Laboratories Ventures (Merck & Co.)13

Resources: $250 million fund.

Current portfolio: Three companies14; limited partner investments in five venture capital funds as of June 2014, including an undisclosed sum in the $270 million fourth fund of Flagship Ventures, and the establishment, with Lumira Capital, of the Merck-Lumira Bioscience Fund in Canada

Amount of investment: Flexible, up to $10 million during first round (remove statement on follow-on and % ownership)

Investment preferences: Direct equity investments in early-stage therapeutics companies, including creation of new startups, with world-class team, clear product vision or platform with a clear path to a therapeutic. Leading position based on innovation in biology, chemistry, or a unique insight into human disease mechanisms.

Year established: 2011

#4. MedImmune Ventures (AstraZeneca)

Resources: $400 million under management in an evergreen fund

Current portfolio: 14 companies

Amount of investment: $15 million to $25 million over the life of an investment

Investment preferences: Private companies that develop small and large molecules, vaccines, pharmaceutical technologies, and platforms, with early to late-stage products and technologies, in early (e.g., seed) to late (e.g., mezzanine) rounds of financing. While initially focused on North America, MedImmune Ventures will currently consider companies anywhere in the world “where we have strong local relationships.” The fund also seeks investments in medical device, diagnostic, imaging, and healthcare IT companies pertaining to the discovery, development, and commercialization of pharmaceutical products. Therapeutic scope includes cardiology, gastroenterology, neuroscience, oncology, pulmonology, infectious disease, inflammation, and metabolism.

Year established: 2002

#3. Lilly Asia Ventures

Resources: $430 million

Current portfolio: 18 companies

Amount of investment: $5 million to $25 million per round. In most cases, the fund desires a board seat or observation rights

Investment preferences: Venture capital and growth equity investments in companies in the life sciences and healthcare sectors in Asia, particularly China.  Seeks to invest in companies 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 fund invests in venture, growth, and pre-IPO opportunities. Primary focus is pharmaceuticals and biotechnology (human therapeutics), though the fund has also invested in devices and diagnostics, and expanding to select healthcare services (specialty clinics, etc.), animal health, and health IT opportunities.

Year established: 2008

#2 Roche Venture Fund

Resources: Evergreen fund of CHF 500 million (about $552.5 million), of which about 40% is currently invested

Current active portfolio: 25 companies in 10 countries across Europe, North America, and the Pacific region15

Amount of investment: While the amount depends on the size of the financing round, generally investments range from CHF 3 million ($3.3 million) to CHF 5 million ($5.5 million) in first financing round, with a 15% ownership stake: “We do vary these when appropriate.”16

Investment preferences: Private companies with innovative medicines, diagnostics, and technologies. In select cases, the fund will invest in companies alongside R&D collaborations with Roche or Genentech. Fund focuses on Series A investments though it could invest later. For therapeutics, the fund prefers to invest in preclinical companies.  For diagnostics, preferred timing of investment is 12-18 months to launch.

Year established: 2002

#1. Novartis Venture Fund

Resources: More than $1 billion in committed capital under management via evergreen fund re-investing the returns generated17

Current portfolio: 41 companies, with a combined 18 clinical programs in Phase I or Phase II.

Amount of investment: Up to $30 million to $50 million per company over its life17; Fund engages in seed investments as well as later-stage investments including mezzanine financing, typically leading or co-leading an investment, then playing an active role on company boards.

Investment Preferences: Life sciences companies across biotechnology/biopharma, and medical devices and diagnostics. Primary focus is on the development of new therapeutics and platforms. Twenty percent of the fund is targeted to medical device, diagnostics and other healthcare-related information technology opportunities. “We look for unmet need and clinical impact, novel proprietary science and understanding of mechanism, management and board experience and capital efficiency in the program.”18

Year established: 1996


The following funds could not be ranked either because they disclose their resources by the total size of annual award, or simply because the size of the funds could not be ascertained.

SR One (GlaxoSmithKline)

Resources: $40 million to $60 million in five to eight companies a year; more than $830 million invested since 1985

Current portfolio: 35 private and public companies

Amount of investment: Ranges from thousands to millions

Investment preferences: Innovative technologies across therapeutic areas

Year established: 1985

Pfizer Venture Investments (PVI)

Resources: Annual budget of $50 million for private investments

Current portfolio: 30 companies19

Amount of investment: Up to $10 million per round in selected companies in any stage of development, with a strong focus on growth stage opportunities.

Investment Preferences: A broad array of healthcare related areas, including therapeutics, platform technologies, diagnostics, drug delivery, pharmaceutical services, healthcare IT, and other technologies impacting drug discovery and development. PVI will consider companies at all stages of development, including startups, spinouts, and consortia investments. PVI has the ability to lead or join a syndicate of investors and will seek board representation “as appropriate.” Other investments, including fund investing, spinout opportunities, and PIPEs will also be considered “as appropriate.”  While primarily U.S. focused, international investments may represent up to 20% of the portfolio.

Year established: 2004

Baxalta Ventures

Resources: To be determined20

Current portfolio: To be determined20

Amount of investment: Initial investments are generally up to $5 million and may increase throughout the life of the company.

Investment preferences: Baxalta Ventures investment interests include novel therapeutics, diagnostics, medical devices, and software solutions that enable disease management in the following core therapeutic areas: Hematology, immunology and inflammation, and oncology. Fund’s focus aligns with Baxalta’s core businesses, and includes cutting-edge technologies and therapies that have the potential to address unmet medical needs and offer sustainable long-term growth.

Year established: 2015

AbbVie Biotech Ventures Inc. (ABVI)

Resources: Size of current fund unavailable

Current portfolio: Nine companies

Amount of investment: Ranges from several hundred thousand dollars up to several million, depending on the opportunity and development stage. ABVI requires board participation. The fund will lead an investment “given the right opportunity,” but will always remain a minority investor.21

Investment preferences: Companies with programs ranging from preclinical to early proof-of-concept are of highest interest. ABVI invests in technologies that are strategic to AbbVie such as immunology, neuroscience, oncology, renal disease, and virology, as well as emerging or more opportunistic areas of innovation that have the potential to complement AbbVie’s existing portfolio or to expand AbbVie’s future business reach.

Year established: 2013

Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC Inc.

Resources: Size of fund undisclosed

Current portfolio: Undisclosed number of companies

Amount of investment: Ranges from early stages of seed funding to advanced stages of series venture management. Amount depends upon the stage of funding, phase of product development stages, and alignment JJDC strategic growth objectives. In some advanced funding stages, JJDC will syndicate investments with other venture capital firms or other corporate venture groups, or participate as an investor in a syndicated venture financing. JJDC actively participates in venture investments through dedicated advisors and milestone management. Continued funding of investments is strictly predicated on milestone attainment.

Investment preferences: JJDC invests in life science and technology businesses that focus on traditional health care sectors such as pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device, diagnostic, and consumer health. JJDC invests in emerging health care businesses with large addressable markets, clear competitive advantages, IP protection, an executable clinical and commercialization plan, and are led by experienced management. These businesses are expected to provide above-average, long-term financial returns, and strategic growth options for Johnson & Johnson.22

Year established: 1973

Sanofi-Genzyme BioVentures (formerly Genzyme Ventures)

Resources: Size of fund undisclosed

Current active portfolio: 13 companies23

Amount of investment: Undisclosed

Investment preferences: Direct investment in early-stage innovative life science companies that demonstrate promise to deliver breakthrough products that may be future Sanofi pipeline candidates. Fund seeks investments that align with Sanofi’s current and future areas of business interest. Fund provides access to expertise from the Sanofi and Genzyme teams as part of its value proposition. Main areas of focus include rare diseases, oncology, vaccines, multiple sclerosis and immune-mediated diseases, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and integrated care solutions as well as new emerging business opportunities.

Year established: 2012 (originally formed as Genzyme Ventures in 2001)

Takeda Ventures Inc. (TVI)

Resources: Size of fund undisclosed.

Current portfolio: 13 companies24

Amount of investment: Undisclosed. TVI says it prefers to hold <15% equity interest as co-investors, where the lead investors would include venture capital firms, private equity funds, angels, or institutional investors; “TVI maintains a flexible approach to all investment opportunities.”25

Investment preferences: TVI’s immediate focus is on cardiometabolic, central nervous system, chronic inflammatory and immune modulation, and oncology therapeutic areas. The fund’s focus also includes gastroenterology and renal/urological diseases, as well as innovative platforms for drug target and biomarker identification, regenerative medicines, innovative vaccines technologies, and delivery systems for novel protein and peptide therapeutics. TVI seeks investments designed to extend Takeda’s reach into the global scientific community and forge strategic relationships that complement and expand internal R&D capabilities. The fund does not invest in diagnostics platforms, medical technology and devices or anti-infective products.

Year established: 2001 (as Takeda Research Investment); renamed Takeda Ventures in 2011

1The company disclosed three companies as having joined its bioincubator in Yavne in a Nov. 26, 2013, press release and a “fact sheet” available on its website: Neviah Genomics, Metabomed, and ChanBio. The company said it “expects several more companies to enter.” See the release:$File/EMDIsrael.pdf
2 Neviah Genomics, a joint venture between EMD Serono and the genomics company Compugen, was the bioincubator’s first startup, arriving in 2012: “The goal is to have at least six startups working to transform the ideas of Israeli scientists into new medications or technologies by 2018.” according to a May 15, 2013 report in company online publication “M: The Explorer Magazine.” See:
3 In 2012, the fund made follow-on investments into two of the three companies, Pharmabcine and Qurient, in syndication with Korean and international investors.
4 Figures furnished to GEN in 2013 by Reinhard Ambros, global head of the Novartis Venture Funds.
5 According to Merck KGaA, EPP has not only contributed to the successful creation of local biotech start-up and service companies in Switzerland, but has been extended to former Merck Serono employees worldwide as well
6 Size of fund and amount per company figures furnished in 2013 by Jeffrey B. Moore, D.Phil., vp of MPH, following publication in GEN of the 2013 Corporate Venture Funds List. Dr. Moore was unavailable at deadline to update these figures this year.
7 Another two companies are listed in MPH’s “Portfolio Archive” following exit events.
8 Fund did not respond to GEN email queries seeking confirmation of information published online and/or additional information.
9 21 companies are across all three funds. In addition to its namesake main fund, MS Ventures also includes the €30 million (about $33 million) Merck Serono Entrepreneur Partnership Program (EPP) and the €10 million (about $11 million) MS Ventures Israel Bioincubator Fund. Both are listed separately on this GEN List.
10 Does not include an additional six companies that are no longer in the active portfolio due to M&A or IPO exits.
11 Another 18 companies are no longer in the active portfolio due to M&A or IPO exits.
12 In 2013, oversight of external strategic alliance activities, was shifted from AVM and other departments to the newly-created Astellas Innovation Management. AIM oversees activities in acquiring external innovation opportunities in the preclinical development stage, such as strategy planning, screening, scientific assessment and alliance negotiations.
13 The Fund is separate from Merck’s Global Health Innovation, also a $250 million fund but focused on developing companies in two categories outside of Merck's core pharmaceuticals, vaccines, consumer products, and animal health businesses – health solutions and services, and health information technology
14 Visterra, Imago BioSciences, and Spero Therapeutics have listed the Fund as a co-investor in separate announcements released over the past year
15 Does not include historic portfolio of 15 companies that exited via M&A, and another nine that exited via IPOs.
16 See:
17 See page 6 of the Fund’s Annual Report 2014,
18 See: Investment Focus on fund’s website;
19 Does not include 10 former portfolio companies also listed online.
20 Baxalta Ventures is currently finalizing funding and projects, a company spokeswoman told GEN, with details expected to be available by the end of July. Last year, before Baxter International spun out its BioScience business into Baxalta, the predecessor’s venture arm Baxter Ventures was listed by GEN as having $200 million in resources, and a portfolio of 11 investments, most being direct investment in companies, with the rest being investments in life sciences venture fund.
21 See:
22 JJDC criteria for pharmaceuticals and biotechnologies published online at; and JJDC criteria for medical devices and diagnostics, published online at
23 Does not include three former portfolio companies also listed online.
24 Does not include seven former portfolio companies also listed online that that are no longer in the active portfolio due to M&A exits.
25 See:



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