Advent Life Sciences launches two funds totaling $215M, and teams with Harrington Discovery Institute to translate research
Longtime early-stage investor Advent Life Sciences has completed two new funds, and they’re ready to spend the cash.
Advent raised a combined $215 million between the two, announcing the raises early Thursday morning. The VC firm is calling them the Advent Life Sciences Fund III and the Advent-Harrington Impact Fund, the second of which is run jointly by the Harrington Discovery Institute, and is seeking roughly 15 to 18 new seed or Series A investments over the next four years or so.
“We’ve done this in the good times and the bad times, so we’ve always stuck to our knitting,” Advent general partner Shahzad Malik told Endpoints News. “The association now … is a natural progression.”
Malik isn’t saying how much each fund plans to dole out but noted they will invest in the same companies at the same time. Some profits that come from the Harrington-partnered fund will be funneled back to the institute to subsidize even more of their research, starting what Malik hopes is a cycle benefiting both parties.
Advent has followed its early-stage strategy since inception and takes pride in helping build companies from the ground up, Malik said. It’s a different kind of investing than firms that mainly focus on follow-on rounds, which can be likened more to picking the right stocks and dole out more modest returns.
The focus of the new funds will largely be on drug discovery, but Advent will likely also chip in to medical device companies. Malik’s main focus? Finding a gem of research that can be translated into what he calls a “product engine,” which he says is more than just a new platform technology.
Malik pointed toward Arrakis Therapeutics as one of the firm’s biggest product engine successes, having secured a $190 million upfront payment back in April in a deal with “several billion” in milestones, CEO Mike Gilman said at the time. The company aims to develop small molecules to inhibit disease-causing RNA.
“If you think about DNA as the code for your life and proteins as the building blocks for your body, there’s an enormous gap in the middle which is RNA,” Malik said. “People have historically used bits of DNA and RNA to manipulate the cells of RNA,” but not with small molecules.
“That’s really breaking new ground; Arrakis is the first big play in that space,” Malik added.
It’s still in the preclinical stage, but Arrakis’ ability to apply its technology to a wide array of areas is the kind of thing Advent looks for. Though not all biotechs can score Big Pharma deals in the range of Arrakis, Advent is committed to following the best and most promising scientific approaches.
The funds will likely stay away from the highest-risk clinical indications such as stroke and sepsis, but Malik is ready to invest in almost anything else. And they’ve gotten a head start already, having invested in a few companies still in stealth mode.