Vesalius Raises €65 Million While Novartis AG Alum's VC Seeks €50 Million to Bet on Italian Scientists

Published: May 18, 2017

Vesalius Raises €65 Million While Novartis Alum’s VC Seeks €50 Million to Bet on Italian Scientists May 18, 2017
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Vesalius Biocapital, a life sciences venture capital investor based in Bertrange, Luxembourg, announced the first close of its third fund, Vesalius Biocapital III. As of May 15, the fund had secured 65 million euros, or about $72 million (US).

The fund will continue to accept new investors. However, it plans to immediately invest in later-stage European life sciences companies ranging across drug development, medical technology, diagnostics and digital health.

In its tenth year, Vesalius Biocapital has raised over 150 million euros for its first two funds. It has led or co-led over 20 investments that led to successful sales or IPOs. Recent exits include Ogeda, which was bought by Astellas for 800 million euros, Activaero, bought by Vectura for 130 million euros, Genkyotex, a reverse merger on Euronext, and Fovea, which was acquired by Sanofi for 370 million euros.

Vesalius Biocapital I fund had 76 million euros and fully invested in 11 portfolio companies. It was launched in 2007. Vesalius Biocapital II, launched in 2011, had 78 million euros and also was fully invested in 11 portfolio companies.

“We are very fortunate to have attracted high quality investors to Vesalius Biocapital III in validation of our successful track record,” said Stephane Verdood, managing partner of Vesalius Biocapital III, in a statement. “Furthermore, we are glad that a significant number of investors in our previous funds Vesalius Biocapital I and Vesalius Biocapital II are backing us in our new fund. This is an exciting time in healthcare; the industry is at a key inflection point between science, technology and medicine, and our investors support our strategy to invest in companies developing innovative products and technologies.”

In similar venture capital news, Guido Guidi, formerly head of Pharma Region Europe with Novartis, is attempting to raise 50 million euros for a life science fund, AuraA-TT. John Carroll, writing for Endpoints News, notes that AuraA-TT “is wagering on Italian scientists looking to translate discovery into new therapies. Guidi and his co-founders are planning to work with universities, research centers, technology transfer offices, biotechnology companies and patient associations in Italy to find new therapies to foster.”

“We bet on Italian scientists,” Guidi told Carroll. “Technology transfer in Italy is still in its infancy. To tackle it and foster a premiere role for Italy in the creation of value from high-quality research, it is necessary to couple economic resources with a committed team with a partnership attitude and a strong track record in enabling a scientific breakthrough into viable therapies for patients in need.”

Both Vesalius Biocapital and AuraA-TT are indications that the venture capital community in Europe is growing. It’s traditionally been smaller than U.S. venture capitalists, but Vesalius as well as Paris-based Sofinnova, have been working on ties with U.S. investors. Vesalius, for example, has opened an office in Boston to improve participation in U.S.-based investor syndicates.

“While the primary focus is investing in Europe,” says Christian Schneider, Vesalius Biocapital III’s managing partner, in a statement, “we want to provide a bridge to enable European companies to access U.S. capital markets, and for North American companies to have access to Europe for development, expansion or access to innovation. To this extent, we have set up a Boston-based U.S. presence to provide support to the portfolio and evaluate new opportunities.”

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