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.”

IDC: Life Sci­ences Firms Must Em­brace Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion Now

Pre-pandemic, the life sciences industry had settled into a pattern. The average drug took 12 years and $2.9 billion to bring to market, and it was an acceptable mode of operations, according to Nimita Limaye, Research Vice President for Life Sciences R&D Strategy and Technology at IDC.

COVID-19 changed that, and served as a proof-of-concept for how technology can truly help life sciences companies succeed and grow, Limaye said. She recently spoke about industry trends at Egnyte’s Life Sciences Summit 2022. You should watch the entire session, free and on-demand, but here’s a brief recap of why she’s urging life sciences companies to embrace digital transformation.

FDA ap­proves one of the prici­est new treat­ments of all time — blue­bird's gene ther­a­py for be­ta tha­lassemia

The FDA on Wednesday approved the first gene therapy for a chronic condition — bluebird bio’s new Zynteglo (beti-cel) as a potentially curative treatment for those with transfusion-dependent thalassemia.

The thumbs-up from the FDA follows a unanimous adcomm vote in June, with outside experts pointing to extraordinary efficacy, with 89% of subjects with TDT who received beti-cel having achieved transfusion independence.

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Joel Dudley, new partner at Innovation Endeavors (Bosch Health Campus)

For­mer Google CEO’s VC is mak­ing a big­ger push in­to the biotech world, hir­ing promi­nent Ther­a­nos skep­tic

Venture capital firm Innovation Endeavors has mainly had its focus on investments across the tech space, but it has been slowly turning its attention to the biotech world. Now, a new partner is coming into the fold showing that its interest in biotech is likely to grow further.

The Silicon Valley-based company, which is headed up by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, has brought on Joel Dudley as a partner. According to Dudley’s LinkedIn page, he is joining Innovation Endeavors after serving as the chief science officer of biotech startup Tempus Labs since 2020.

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James Sabry, Roche global head of pharma partnering

Roche, Genen­tech plunk down $60M up­front to part­ner with Chi­nese phar­ma on PRO­TAC-based prostate can­cer drug

Roche and Genentech are always on the hunt for deals, and on Thursday they found their newest partner.

The pair will team up with the Chinese pharma company Jemincare to push forward a new program for prostate cancer, the companies announced. Roche is ponying up $60 million upfront to get its hands on the candidate and promising up to $590 million in biobucks, plus royalties, down the line.

In return, Genentech will get a worldwide license to develop the program, known as JMKX002992, and bring it to market.

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Andrew Hopkins, Exscientia CEO

Ex­sci­en­tia ter­mi­nates Bay­er pact half a year ear­ly, col­lect­ing small por­tion of €240M promised

Bayer and Exscientia are winding down their three-year collaboration, leaving the big German pharma to take the AI-designed compounds born out of the pact further.

London-based Exscientia revealed in its Q2 update that the partners have “mutually agreed to end” their collaboration, which kicked off in early 2020, after recently achieving a drug discovery milestone. In an SEC filing, Exscientia said it terminated the pact on May 30, about six months early.

Bayer's first DTC ad campaign for chronic kidney disease drug Kerendia spells out its benefits

Bay­er aims to sim­pli­fy the com­plex­i­ties of CKD with an ABC-themed ad cam­paign

Do you know the ABCs of CKD in T2D? Bayer’s first ad campaign for Kerendia tackles the complexity of chronic kidney disease with a play on the acronym (CKD) and its connection to type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Kerendia was approved last year as the first and only non-steroidal mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist to treat CKD in people with type 2 diabetes.

In the TV commercial launched this week, A is for awareness, B is for belief and C is for cardiovascular, explained in the ad as awareness of the connection between type 2 and kidney disease, belief that something can be done about it, and cardiovascular events that may be reduced with treatment.

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James Mock, incoming CFO at Moderna

Mod­er­na taps new CFO from PerkinElmer af­ter for­mer one-day CFO oust­ed

When Moderna hired a new CFO last year,  it didn’t expect to see him gone after only one day. Today the biotech named his — likely much more vetted — replacement.

The mRNA company put out word early Wednesday that after the untimely departure of then brand-new CFO Jorge Gomez, it has now found a replacement in James Mock, the soon-to-be former CFO at diagnostics and analytics company PerkinElmer.

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Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division

GSK lands first-ever UNICEF con­tract for malar­ia vac­cine worth $170M

GSK has landed a new first from UNICEF the first-ever contract for malaria vaccines, worth up to $170 million for 18 million vaccine doses distributed over the next three years.

The vaccine, known as Mosquirix or RTS,S, won WHO’s backing last October after a controversial start, but UNICEF said these doses will potentially save thousands of lives every year.

“We hope this is just the beginning,” Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division, said. “Continued innovation is needed to develop new and next-generation vaccines to increase available supply, and enable a healthier vaccine market. This is a giant step forward in our collective efforts to save children’s lives and reduce the burden of malaria as part of wider malaria prevention and control programmes.”

Joe Jonas (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

So­lo Jonas broth­er car­ries Merz's new tune in Botox ri­val cam­paign

As the lyrics of his band’s 2019 pop-rock single suggest, Joe Jonas is only human — and that means even he gets frown lines. The 33-year-old singer-songwriter is Merz’s newest celebrity brand partner for its Botox rival Xeomin, as medical aesthetics brands target a younger audience.

Merz kicked off its “Beauty on Your Terms” campaign on Tuesday, featuring the Jonas brother in a video ad for its double-filtered anti-wrinkle injection Xeomin.

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