VC Firm Bioluminescence Ventures Launches with $477M in Assets

Pictured: Money growth/iStock, RomoloTavani

Pictured: Money growth/iStock, RomoloTavani

The current environment for big and small biotechs has been harrowing over the last few months, with layoffs and pipeline cuts in a challenging business environment. However, that is not deterring some venture capital firms from investment such as Bioluminescence Ventures, which emerged from stealth on Wednesday with $477 million in assets across two funds.

Bioluminescence, led by former Andreessen Horowitz senior partner Kouki Harasaki, plans to invest in “transformative” biotech companies with first-in-class or best-in-class therapeutics that are “addressing large patient populations” with currently unmet medical needs. The firm’s investments will focus on industry breakthroughs in biology, drug discovery, genetic medicines and computational biology platforms.

Harasaki, founding and managing partner at Bioluminescence, has deep experience in biotech investment. He served as a partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and, before starting Bioluminescence, was the managing director at M12/Microsoft Ventures, where he led its life science investment arm.

“Innovation never stops, even when financing does. The recent COVID-19 global pandemic proved that biopharmaceutical innovation is rapidly accelerating. The 2007-2008 Global Financial Crisis and the subsequent years of the biopharma sector downturn proved that venture firms that continue to invest in breakthrough platforms—especially during financial downturns—can help make a meaningful impact on patients while generating strong financial returns,” Harasaki said in a statement.  

Bioluminescence is looking to build out its team soon and will be bringing on board academic advisors and those familiar with the M&A and IPO environments. The VC firm will also announce its advisory board and team “in the coming weeks,” according to Wednesday’s announcement.

Harasaki and Bioluminescence have already invested in several biotechs, including Surge Therapeutics, which is developing a platform to improve the safety and efficacy of immunotherapy treatment. Bioluminescence led Surge's $32 million Series B financing in July 2023.

The fund also led the Series B for Nido Biosciences, which is developing a treatment for the neuromuscular disease Spinal and Bulbar Muscular Atrophy. Bioluminescence has also invested in mRNA and gene correction biotech ReCode Therapeutics and Takeda-backed genomic medicine company Ensoma.

“The best way to help Founders and CEOs right now is to partner with them to secure strong syndicates and close rounds. Post-investment, investors must be able to provide interdisciplinary support—more than ever—to help their companies advance programs through preclinical and clinical milestones in a capital-efficient manner,” Harasaki said.

Tyler Patchen is a staff writer at BioSpace. You can reach him at tyler.patchen@biospace.com. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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