Boehringer Ingelheim announced an increase in funding for its corporate venture fund, known as the Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund (BIVF), from EUR 100 to 250 million. The additional funds will be used to invest in promising early stage start-up companies, focusing on regenerative medicine, infectious diseases and immune oncology among others, as well as growing the portfolio in the U.S. and opening doors for the BIVF in digital health. The significant additional funding goes along with a doubling of the number of investment managers.
“We at the BIVF are inspired by the opportunity to increase investments and work across some of the most promising areas of biomedical research to date,” says Frank Kalkbrenner, M.D., Corporate Vice President and Head of the BIVF. “We are thrilled to be opening a second U.S.-based office in 2018, which will allow us to collaborate more closely with biotech and start-up companies on the West Coast. This also brings us one step closer in our quest to be at the centre of the global digital health transformation.”
The expansion builds on the BIVF’s existing portfolio of 21 biotech and early stage start-up companies focused on various therapeutic areas of interest, including immune-oncology. Recent successes of the portfolio include:
- Rigontec is a forerunner in accessing the retinoic acid-inducible gene I pathway, part of the innate immune system, as a novel and distinct approach in cancer immunotherapy to induce both immediate and long-term anti-tumor immunity. Rigontec was acquired by Merck (known as MSD outside of the U.S. and Canada) in September 2017, with an upfront payment of EUR 115 million and additional contingent payments of up to EUR 349 million.
- ViraTherapeutics specializes in the development of oncolytic virus therapies. In 2016, BIVF entered into an option agreement with a transaction value of up to EUR 210 million, including co-funding of development activities of ViraTherapeutics’s VSV-GP.
- Okairos is pioneering the development of T-cell based vaccines for major infectious diseases, as well as cancer. In 2011, one year after the BIVF was founded, the first investment was made in Okairos. The company was acquired by GlaxoSmithKline in 2013, creating the first successful exit for BIVF.
“The key differentiator for Boehringer Ingelheim’s Venture Fund lies in the close and trusted relationships with the portfolios and entrepreneurs with whom we are privileged to work with,” added Kalkbrenner. “Through these connections, we’ve successfully developed a number of biotech start-ups – from creation to exit – and we look forward to the ground-breaking work that lies ahead. We are a team that welcomes new adventure and risk-taking, if it means delivering novel solutions that will one day help patients everywhere lead healthier lives.”
Boehringer Ingelheim’s innovation strategy furthers its commitment to push the boundaries of biomedical research and development by accelerating the delivery of first in class breakthrough therapies for patients in need. The BIVF invests in the development of pioneering science, which offers the potential to provide significant benefits for patients, creating options for Boehringer Ingelheim to expand into new areas. It actively works to spin-out and create companies from academia, developing projects over a five to seven year time period with initial investments in seed or series A funding. Staged investments start with EUR 0.5-3 million and can amount to up to EUR 10-15 million in funding.
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