Roche will provide financial and scientific backing, while Pontifax will offer access to incubators.

Roche is looking to strengthen its R&D pipeline through investment in the Israeli life science industry, as part of a collaboration with Pontifax Management II. The collaboration will see both partners provide financial support and relevant expertise to young biotech and pharma companies in Israel.

Pontifax will lead the process of identifying and investing in Israeli biotech companies that represent potential collaborative partners for Roche with an initial focus on seed-stage and later-stage biotech firms. Roche will then assess promising investment opportunities and provide selected ventures with support in areas including drug development, regulatory issues, clinical trials, manufacturing, and marketing. Pontifax will provide management support, and selected start-ups will be admitted to an incubator affiliated with the firm. The joint investment will complement funding through the incubator program of Israel’s Office of the Chief Scientist.

“Combining Roche’s expertise and immense resources with our local, hands-on management oversight presents a unique opportunity for the Israeli bio-pharma start-ups to go global”, notes Tomer Karive, Pontifax CEO.

Israel is home to over 900 life science companies including over 60 pharma and 20 stem cell firms, four of which are involved in clinical trials, according to Invest in Israel, the investment promotion center of Israel ’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. Some 50 to 60 new life science businesses are established in the country every year, they add. Forty one percent of all life science companies operating in Israel have reportedly been established during the last five years and over a third are generating revenues. The country is also second in Europe in the number per capita of private biotech companies with products in the pipeline and fourth in the world in terms of the number of patents per capita.

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