J.P. Morgan Launches Life Sciences Fund to Support Early-Stage Biotech

Mike Kemp/In PIctures via Getty Images

Mike Kemp/In PIctures via Getty Images

J.P. Morgan launched its new life science-focused private equity team, Life Sciences Private Capital, to support early- and growth stage biotech companies.

Mike Kemp/In PIctures via Getty Images

J.P. Morgan Asset Management launched a new life sciences-focused private equity team, dubbed Life Sciences Private Capital, Tuesday to support early- and growth-stage biotech companies.

In particular, the Life Sciences Private Capital team will focus on innovative therapies and technologies in neuropsychology, metabolic diseases, artificial intelligence, autoimmunity, genetic medicine, oncology, rare diseases and neurodegenerative diseases.

The new team comes amid an industry-wide slowdown in funding. According to an analysis by business information firm Crunchbase, biotech start-ups in the U.S. have been raising an average of $3.2 billion per month since June. Last year, the monthly average almost reached $4 billion.

In terms of exits, Crunchbase reported only 14 initial public offerings as of June. More than 100 biotechs went public in 2021, and more than 90 did so in 2020.

However, Stephen Squinto, Ph.D., chief investment officer of the new venture team, pointed out in a statement that innovation in the field hasn’t slowed down. “As advances in genomics, biomarkers and data science converge, we are seeing firsthand the transformative impact that biomedical innovation can offer to patients at all stages of life and we expect much more to come in the next decade.”

This opportunity is what J.P. Morgan is looking to support, leveraging its existing presence in the healthcare space to identify the most promising young companies with transformative technologies. The Life Sciences Private Capital team will begin investments early next year, Squinto told The Wall Street Journal.

The new venture team will be situated within J.P. Morgan Private Capital, a growth equity and private credit investment platform launched last year for consumer and climate-technology sectors.

Beyond funding, the Life Sciences Private Capital team will also be able to leverage the bank’s scale, data assets and industry expertise to “act as true partners to the companies we invest in,” Squinto said. The team can help these firms build strong mastheads, design sound clinical development programs, and navigate the regulatory process.

An All-Star Roster

Squinto was a co-founder of Alexion Pharmaceuticals, which was bought by pharma powerhouse AstraZeneca last year for $39 billion. Squinto also previously served as an executive partner at OrbiMed, a biopharma-focused investment firm. He brings over three decades of industry experience to the Life Sciences Private Capital team.

Joining Squinto on the executive board is Gaurav Gupta, M.D., M.S.E., who will serve as a co-managing partner in the new venture group. He was previously with OrbiMed as an investment professional before he struck out on his own to found Ascendant BioCaptial, a life sciences-focused investment firm.

Anya Schiess is also joining as a co-managing partner. She was the co-founder and a general partner at Healthy Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm focused on health and pharma technologies.

Aside from the executive board, the Life Sciences Private Capital team will also have a group of strategic advisors, counting among its ranks some of the most decorated and experienced industry experts to help guide the team’s investment strategy.

Tristan is an independent science writer based in Metro Manila, with more than eight years of experience writing about medicine, biotech and science. He can be reached at tristan.manalac@biospace.com, tristan@tristanmanalac.com or on LinkedIn.