Rafaèle Tordjman (Jeito Capital)

Con­ti­nu­ity and di­ver­si­ty: Rafaèle Tord­j­man's women-led VC firm tops out first fund at $630M

For a first-time fund, Jeito Cap­i­tal talks a lot about con­ti­nu­ity.

Rafaèle Tord­j­man had spot­light­ed that con­cept ever since she start­ed build­ing the firm in 2018, promis­ing to go the ex­tra mile(s) with biotech en­tre­pre­neurs while push­ing them to reach pa­tients faster.

Co­in­ci­den­tal­ly, the lack of con­ti­nu­ity was one of the sore spots list­ed in a re­port about the Eu­ro­pean health­care sec­tor pub­lished that same year by the Eu­ro­pean In­vest­ment Bank — whose fund is one of the LPs, along­side the Amer­i­can pen­sion fund Teacher Re­tire­ment Sys­tem of Texas and Sin­ga­pore’s Temasek, to help Jeito close its first fund at $630 mil­lion (€534 mil­lion). As pre­vi­ous­ly re­port­ed, Sanofi had chimed in €50 mil­lion, mark­ing its first in­vest­ment in a French life sci­ences fund.

The close ex­ceed­ed Jeito’s orig­i­nal goal of €500 mil­lion.

Hav­ing spent years at the top-tier French VC firm Sofinno­va, Tord­j­man craft­ed her strat­e­gy to stand out from the crowd by hav­ing her port­fo­lio com­pa­nies’ backs every step of the way. In­stead of hav­ing one fund for ear­ly-stage star­tups and an­oth­er for growth, Jeito’s funds are de­signed to pour mon­ey and re­fill as need­ed, no mat­ter what stage the com­pa­ny is at — even all the way to an IPO and be­yond.

Tord­j­man is ready to in­vest as much as $100 mil­lion in­to a giv­en com­pa­ny, al­though by na­ture of her strat­e­gy of build­ing a di­verse port­fo­lio, she reck­ons some would ex­it ear­li­er than oth­ers, al­low­ing room for 12 to 15 bets in Fund I.

“We will in­vest big mon­ey in some of them, but not all of them,” she said.

Jeito is not picky about the ther­a­peu­tic ar­eas. So far, it has in­vest­ed in five Eu­rope-based com­pa­nies with a glob­al vi­sion, in­clud­ing French-based Spar­ingVi­sion and In­noSkel, the for­mer de­vel­op­ing new gene ther­a­pies for the eye and the lat­ter fo­cus­ing on rare skele­tal dis­or­ders; Dutch biotech Neo­gene Ther­a­peu­tics, co-found­ed by Ton Schu­mach­er on a quest to cre­ate cell ther­a­pies for sol­id tu­mors; UK-based Pul­mo­cide, spe­cial­iz­ing in se­vere res­pi­ra­to­ry dis­eases; and Swiss French Alen­tis Ther­a­peu­tics, striv­ing for treat­ments in fi­bro­sis and re­lat­ed can­cers.

The em­pha­sis on di­ver­si­ty is al­so man­i­fest­ed in the team, which is heav­i­ly dom­i­nat­ed by women.

Tord­j­man, founder and chair­woman of the 11-year-old Women In­no­vat­ing To­geth­er in Health­care group, co-man­ages the fund out of the Paris of­fice along­side J&J vet Sabine Dandigu­ian, while Rachel Mears, who led busi­ness strat­e­gy and op­er­a­tions at For­est Lab be­fore it be­came Al­ler­gan, works in New York. Four out of the six op­er­a­tional in­vestors are women, bring­ing ex­per­tise in re­pro­duc­tive health, G pro­tein cou­pled re­cep­tors, trans­ac­tions and al­liance man­age­ment, and so on.

Bring­ing their skill sets of ex­pe­ri­ence to­geth­er to work to­geth­er on deals is cru­cial to mak­ing her strat­e­gy work.

“For the price of one, you get sev­er­al of us,” Tord­j­man joked.

All of that gives Jeito plen­ty of fu­el to blaze a path that, while well-trod­den in the US, is still quite new in Eu­rope. Along the way, she has en­coun­tered her share of skep­ti­cism, al­though she be­lieved the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic may have opened in­vestors’ minds.

“It meant at least (for) some in­vestors, like French in­sur­ance com­pa­nies, how much it’s im­por­tant to take risk — some type of risk,” she said. “And par­tic­u­lar­ly with our team that is con­trol — I mean not con­trol­ling the risk, but mit­i­gat­ing the risks, be­cause of our ex­pe­ri­ence in phar­ma, biotech and oth­ers, across the val­ue chain.”

Biotech Half­time Re­port: Af­ter a bumpy year, is biotech ready to re­bound?

The biotech sector has come down firmly from the highs of February as negative sentiment takes hold. The sector had a major boost of optimism from the success of the COVID-19 vaccines, making investors keenly aware of the potential of biopharma R&D engines. But from early this year, clinical trial, regulatory and access setbacks have reminded investors of the sector’s inherent risks.

RBC Capital Markets recently surveyed investors to take the temperature of the market, a mix of specialists/generalists and long-only/ long-short investment strategies. Heading into the second half of the year, investors mostly see the sector as undervalued (49%), a large change from the first half of the year when only 20% rated it as undervalued. Around 41% of investors now believe that biotech will underperform the S&P500 in the second half of 2021. Despite that view, 54% plan to maintain their position in the market and 41% still plan to increase their holdings.

Covid-19 vac­cine boost­ers earn big thumbs up, but Mod­er­na draws ire over world sup­ply; What's next for Mer­ck’s Covid pill?; The C-suite view on biotech; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

You may remember that at the beginning of this year, Endpoints News set a goal to go broader and deeper. We are still working towards that, and are excited to share that Beth Snyder Bulik will be joining us on Monday to cover all things pharma marketing. You can sign up for her weekly Endpoints MarketingRx newsletter in your reader profile.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 119,800+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

No­var­tis de­vel­op­ment chief John Tsai: 'We go deep in the new plat­form­s'

During our recent European Biopharma Summit, I talked with Novartis development chief John Tsai about his experiences over the 3-plus years he’s been at the pharma giant. You can read the transcript below or listen to the exchange in the link above.

John Carroll: I followed your career for quite some time. You’ve had more than 20 years in big pharma R&D and you’ve obviously seen quite a lot. I really was curious about what it was like for you three and a half years ago when you took over as R&D chief at Novartis. Obviously a big move, a lot of changes. You went to work for the former R&D chief of Novartis, Vas Narasimhan, who had his own track record there. So what was the biggest adjustment when you went into this position?

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

Amit Etkin, Alto Neuroscience CEO (Alto via Vimeo)

A star Stan­ford pro­fes­sor leaves his lab for a start­up out to re­make psy­chi­a­try

About five years ago, Amit Etkin had a breakthrough.

The Stanford neurologist, a soft-spoken demi-prodigy who became a professor while still a resident, had been obsessed for a decade with how to better define psychiatric disorders. Drugs for depression or bipolar disorder didn’t work for many patients with the conditions, and he suspected the reason was how traditional diagnoses didn’t actually get at the heart of what was going on in a patient’s brain.

Susan Galbraith, Executive VP, Oncology R&D, AstraZeneca

As­traZeneca on­col­o­gy R&D chief Su­san Gal­braith: 'Y­ou're go­ing to need or­thog­o­nal com­bi­na­tion­s'


Earlier in the week we broadcast our 4th annual European Biopharma Summit with a great lineup of top execs. One of the one-on-one conversations I set up was with Susan Galbraith, the oncology research chief at AstraZeneca. In a wide-ranging discussion, Galbraith reviewed the cancer drug pipeline and key trends influencing development work at the pharma giant. You can watch the video, above, or stick with the script below. — JC

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

Roche's Tecen­triq cross­es the fin­ish line first in ad­ju­vant lung can­cer, po­ten­tial­ly kick­ing off gold rush

While falling behind the biggest PD-(L)1 drugs in terms of sales, Roche has looked to carve out a space for its Tecentriq with a growing expertise in lung cancer. The drug will now take an early lead in the sought-after adjuvant setting — but competitors are on the way.

The FDA on Friday approved Tecentriq as an adjuvant therapy for patients with Stage II-IIIA non small cell lung cancer with PD-(L)1 scores greater than or equal to 1, making it the first drug of its kind approved in an early setting that covers around 40% of all NSCLC patients.

Yao-Chang Xu, Abbisko Therapeutics founder and CEO

Qim­ing-backed Ab­bisko makes $200M+ Hong Kong de­but, as a SPAC and Agenus spin­out al­so price on Nas­daq

Three new entities priced their public debuts late Thursday and early Friday, including a SPAC, a traditional Nasdaq IPO and a Chinese biotech joining the Hong Kong Index.

Shanghai-based Abbisko Therapeutics raised the most money of the triumvirate, garnering $226 million in its Hong Kong debut and pricing at HK$12.46, or roughly $1.60 in US dollars. The blank check company followed up with a $150 million raise, while MiNK Therapeutics priced on Nasdaq at $12 per share and a $40 million raise.

FDA ad­comm votes unan­i­mous­ly in sup­port of a J&J Covid-19 boost­er two months af­ter one-dose shot

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) on Friday voted 19-0 in favor of authorizing a second shot of J&J’s Covid-19 vaccine to follow at least two months after the initial dose.

Regulators don’t have to follow VRBPAC’s recommendation, but they almost always do. Considering that the CDC’s advisory committee has already been set to review the expanded EUA, VRBPAC’s recommendation is likely to be adopted.

FDA ad­comm to de­cide on mol­nupi­ravir EUA; Can­cer at­las un­veils new po­ten­tial drug tar­get

The FDA has another adcomm coming down the pipeline — this time on Covid-19 oral antiviral molnupiravir.

The federal agency’s advisory committee will meet on November 30th to go over Merck and Ridgeback’s EUA request for their investigational antiviral drug, and discuss the available data supporting its use in Covid-19 patients.

This comes two weeks after Merck claimed that their antiviral pill reduced the chance that newly diagnosed Covid-19 patients would be hospitalized or die by 50%. The pharma made the announcement after interim data on 775 patients in their clinical trial showed the antiviral’s potential.