Alex Philippidis Senior News Editor Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

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

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

#5. Novo Ventures

Resources: Up to $220 million invested annually. Current invested cost of the Novo Ventures’ portfolio is $545 million.

Current portfolio: 40 companies

Amount of investment: Investments typically range from an initial $5 million to $30 million per transaction, with capacity to make follow-on investments. May invest at any stage of development: Seed capital, venture capital, IPOs, and public companies

Investment preferences: Companies that specialize in development of new drugs, new procedures for diagnosis and control of diseases, development of medical devices and instruments, and industrial biotechnology. Fund seeks promising life science companies—private and public—whose products or research address medical, scientific or environmental needs

Year established: 2000 

#4. Merck Research Ventures Fund (Merck & Co.)17

Resources: $250 million evergreen fund. First phase was to establish a network of fund-to-fund investments. Majority of activity going forward will be direct minority equity investments in biotech companies, including formation of new startups

Current portfolio: No direct investments in companies; 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, but target $3 million to $7 million during first round, with follow-on investment up to 5–15% ownership

Investment preferences: New ventures that apply scientific breakthroughs to the development of new drugs (small molecules, biologics, vaccines) in areas of unmet medical need.

Year established: 2011

#3. MedImmune Ventures (AstraZeneca)

Resources: $400 million under management in an evergreen fund

Current portfolio: 16 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. Geographic scope includes North America, Western Europe, Israel, and Australia. 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

#2. Roche Venture Fund

Resources: Evergreen fund of CHF 500 million ($680 million), of which about 40% is currently invested18

Current active portfolio: 22 companies in 10 countries across Europe, North America, and the Pacific region18

Amount of investment: While the amount depends on the size of the financing round, generally investments range from CHF 3 million ($4 million) to CHF 5 million ($6.8 million) in first financing round, with a 15% ownership stake: “We do vary these when appropriate.”19

Investment preferences: Private companies with innovative medicines, diagnostics, and technologies. In select cases, the fund will invest in companies alongside research and development collaborations with Roche or Genentech. Fund focuses on Series A investments though it could invest later.

Year established: 2002

#1. Novartis Venture Fund

Resources: About $800 million under management via evergreen fund re-investing the returns generated20

Current portfolio: More than 50 companies20

Amount of investment: $15 million to $20 million per company anticipated over its life;21 minimum can be as little as $100,000: “We will increase our activities to lead or co-lead deals further and remain open to participate in larger syndicates.”22

Investment Preferences: New therapeutics and platforms; medical devices/implants; diagnostics/biomarkers; drug delivery/biopolymers. “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.”22

Year established: 1996

Honorable Mentions

The following funds could not be ranked either because they disclose their resources by the total size of annual award or simply because we weren't able to ascertain how big they are. But, don’t count them out:

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: 22 companies23

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. PVI invests in private companies by leading or joining traditional venture capital syndicates. Also uses equity to support novel business structures such as consortium-based technology development, product outlicensing, and business spinouts.

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. While primarily U.S. focused, international investments may represent up to 20% of the portfolio. PVI seeks board representation “as appropriate.”

Year established: 2004

Novo Seeds (Novo A/S)

Resources: $25 million annually; Novo Seeds is a joint initiative between the Novo Nordisk Foundation and Novo A/S

Current portfolio: 16 seed companies; 16 pre-seed funded projects

Amount of investment: Seed investments typically range from an initial $500,000 to $12 million per company. Also awards pre-seed grants intended to support early-stage applied research that shows commercial potential. Pre-seed grants are awarded on behalf of the Novo Nordisk Foundation and given to researchers at universities or medical staff at hospitals with potential to develop their research into companies capable of winning future seed investments.

Investment preferences: European seed investor with Scandinavian focus.

Year established: 2007 

AbbVie Biotech Ventures Inc. (ABVI)

Resources: Size of current fund unavailable24

Current portfolio: Eight companies24

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.24

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 neuroscience, immunology, virology, and oncology, 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 Development Corp. (JJDC)

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, JJDC will syndicate investments with other venture capital firms or other corporate venture groups, or participate as an investor in a syndicated venture financing.

Investment preferences: JJDC invests in companies with technologies that have the potential to make significant impact on patient health. JJDC’s investing focus is across a diverse range of opportunities in pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device, diagnostic, and consumer health areas that address significant unmet medical needs, have clear competitive advantages, IP protection, an executable clinical and commercialization plan, and are led by experienced management.25

Year established: 1973

Sanofi-Genzyme BioVentures (formerly Genzyme Ventures)

Resources: Size of strategic corporate venture fund undisclosed

Current active portfolio: 12 companies

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)

All figures furnished in non-U.S. currencies were converted to U.S. dollars on June 24, 2014.

1 Merck KGaA disclosed three companies as having joined its bioincubator in Yavne in a November 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 last year by Reinhard Ambros, global head of the Novartis Venture Funds. Novartis at deadline had not responded to two GEN queries seeking to update information published last year.
5 The eighth company is TocopheRx, a Boston-based developer of oral follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) agonists for treatment of infertility. EPP will initially invest $3.2 million in seed funding, Merck KGaA subsidiary EMD Serono announced on December 2, 2013. See:
6 According to Merck KGaA, EPP has not only contributed to the successful creation of local biotech startup and service companies in Switzerland, but has been extended to former Merck Serono employees worldwide as well.
7 Size of fund and amount per company figures furnished last year 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.
8 Another two companies are listed in MPH’s “Portfolio Archive” following exit events.
9 Fund did not respond to GEN email queries seeking confirmation of information published online and/or additional information.
10 18 companies are across all three funds. In addition to its namesake main fund, MS Ventures also manages the €30 million ($40.8 million) Merck Serono Entrepreneur Partnership Program (EPP) and the €10 million ($13.6 million) MS Ventures Israeli Bioincubator Fund. Both are listed separately on this GEN List. Merck KGaA confirmed all information available online but did not furnish an amount of investment per company.
11 Fund did not respond to GEN queries seeking to confirm figures; amount of investment was published by GEN last year while the size of fund and current portfolio are available on the fund’s website. See:
12 Figures furnished to GEN last year by Reinhard Ambros, global head of the Novartis Venture Funds. Novartis at deadline had not responded to two GEN queries seeking to update information published last year.
13 Does not include an additional four companies that are no longer in the active portfolio due to M&A or IPO exits.
14 Baxter says its areas of interest include acute and intensive care pharmaceuticals, anesthesia, biosurgery, clinical nutrition, critical care, fluid management systems, hematologic malignancies, hematology/hemophilia, home care therapies, immunology/inflammation, infusion systems/IV tubing, oncology, pharmaceuticals/solutions/drug delivery, pulmonology, rare/orphan diseases, regenerative medicine, renal/dialysis drugs and devices, and vaccines.
15 AVM no longer lists any companies in its current portfolio as having been funded by the Fujisawa Investments for Entrepreneurship (FITE) funds I and I, established in 1999 and 2001, respectively. Two FITE-funded companies were listed in last year’s GEN List of corporate venture funds.
16 Last year, oversight of external strategic alliance activities, was shifted from AVM and other departments to the newly created Astellas Innovation Management. AIM was launched in October to oversee activities in acquiring external innovation opportunities in the preclinical development stage, such as strategy planning, screening, scientific assessment, and alliance negotiations.
17 MRVF 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.
18 Does not include historic portfolio of 13 companies that exited via M&A, and another nine that exited via IPOs.
19 Fund did not respond to GEN queries seeking confirmation of figures for amount of investment and ownership stake, available at Roche Venture Fund website.  See:
20 Figures published within the past year in CTI Invest®, a private nonprofit membership organization or “financing platform” that connects entrepreneurs with angel and venture capital sources in Switzerland for investment and networking. Novartis at deadline had not responded to two GEN queries seeking to update information published last year. At that time, Novartis said the fund had more than $600 million under management, and a portfolio of some 60 companies. GEN also reported that the fund “anticipate(s) total investments up to USD 30 mio per company over its life,” based on the fund’s Annual Report 2012. See page 14:
21 Investment range disclosed on its website, confirmed via CTI Invest, and also reported in GEN on June 20 by Bruce Carlson, publisher of Kalorama Information. See: “Biotechnology Venture Capital Surge Could Help Aching Pipelines;”
22 See: Investment Focus and Sectors on fund’s website:
23 Does not include nine former portfolio companies also listed online.
24 Fund did not respond to GEN email queries seeking to confirm figures published on its website, such as size of portfolio and amount of investment, and learn additionally the size of the fund. See:
25 JJDC criteria for pharmaceuticals and biotechnologies published online at; and JJDC criteria for medical devices and diagnostics, published online at

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