Index Launches Its First Life Sciences Fund: $200M And Partnering With Glaxo and Johnson & Johnson

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Index Ventures may be best known on these pages for its technology investments, but today it launched a new fund that points to how the company is willing to put its money into other examples of strong innovation. The life sciences fund will see Index put in $100 million of its own capital, and have it matched by $50 million each from big pharma leaders GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson.

Much like the new $400 million fund from Iris Capital, Orange and Publicis, this fund is all about bringing in major players into an environment where they can make more investments into the technologies and services that could well be the future of their industries, but have possibly been too difficult to track and engage with up to now. This time around, the focus is not tech per se, but promising, early-stage R&D innovation in health.

This is not the first time that Index has invested in biotech but it is the first time they have raised a fund dedicated specifically to it. Previous investments include Genmab A/S, PanGenetics B/V (acquired by Abbott Laboratories, Inc,), Aegerion, Inc., Addex Pharmaceuticals Ltd, ParAllele BioScience Inc. (acquired by Affymetrix), Molecular Partners AG and ProFibrix BV as well as several later-stage investments.

In this new fund, Index will take the lead on investment decisions, maintaining full decision-making rights, while GSK and J&J will participate in a “scientific advisory board” to share their expertise. Index has up to now focused largely on European and Israeli startups working on one or two projects; and this is likely to be the same aim with this new fund. Index says it will also consider opportunities in the U.S.

The fund is being led by Francesco De Rubertis, at Index, who noted that this kind of partnership between two would-be competitors, working together in a venture fund, is something of a first: “The fact that these two global pharmaceutical leaders are committing substantial resources to seek early-stage opportunities through a pure-play classic Venture Capital fund is a testament to the visionary leadership behind the companies,” he said in a statement.

The advisory board will have nine people on it: from GSK, Dr. Moncef Slaoui and Dr Paul-Peter Tak, Head of GSK’s Immunoinflammation Therapy Area Unit; from Janssen, Dr. Paul Stoffels and Dr. Bill Hait, Global Head, Research and Development; and five Index Ventures-appointed executives: Francesco De Rubertis, Kevin Johnson, Michele Ollier, Roman Fleck, and Remy Luthringer.

[image: SydneyUni on Flickr]