Focus will be on early-stage firms in Europe, but fund will also consider the U.S.

Index Ventures is launching its first fund solely dedicated to the life sciences sector with a €150 million. The business includes investments from several of Index’ largest existing limited partners and two companies, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Janssen, Johnson & Johnson’s venture capital affiliate.

The two pharmaceutical companies will share their expertise by participating in the scientific advisory board (SAB) of the fund. Index will maintain full decision-making rights for portfolio companies, and the fund rules and procedures will follow previous Index Ventures funds.

Index’ asset-centric model focuses on investment in companies with just one or two projects, rather than companies with multiple programs. The fund will consider opportunities primarily across Europe but also across the U.S., with assets that have first-in-class or best-in-class mechanisms of action and target areas of unmet medical need.

“New and creative approaches to funding early-stage innovation are crucial to the development of transformative medicine,” notes Paul Stoffels, worldwide chairman, pharmaceuticals group, Johnson & Johnson. “We believe that supporting and nurturing start-ups and encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation will be good for the entire industry. Partnerships like this one with Index Ventures and its asset-centric platform will enable us to enhance the probability of identifying early-stage technologies in disease areas of high unmet need.”

Index Ventures reports that it has been involved in the start-up rounds of companies including Genmab, PanGenetics (acquired by Abbott Laboratories), Aegerion, Addex Pharmaceuticals, ParAllele BioScience (acquired by Affymetrix), Molecular Partners, and ProFibrix. Index has also invested in later-stage rounds of financing in companies such as Micromet (acquired by Amgen) and Ariad.

Index’ announcement about its new life science fund comes a day after the Wellcome Trust of U.K. decided to create a £200 million fund also focused on start-up biotechs. The business is currently operating under the title Project Sigma, and a name and brand identity will be announced later. Sigma investments are expected to typically be in start-up firms. The new entity will allow the Trust to take ownership positions in the firms.

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