European biotech VC closes first fund with over $120M in the bank, thanks to big investors
Novo Holdings starts the new year off with a bang — right into a biotech VC’s first fund.
The firm announced its undisclosed investment — a “cornerstone” investment, according to Novo — this morning into Sound Bioventures Fund I, a fund appropriately managed by Sound Bioventures. The venture capital firm aims to invest one-third of its fund in Scandinavian biotechs, another third in US and UK biotechs, and the final third in other European biotechs outside Scandinavia and the UK.
Novo Holdings was joined by Saminvest, Vækstfonden, Ramsbury Invest and the European Investment Fund, alongside other private investors.
With all investments so far at first close, Sound’s first fund has netted the VC $124 million (or €110 million).
Founding partner Johan Kördel told Endpoints News that they hope to get to €150 million in the next 12 months, and have a hard cap of €200 million, or just under $250 million, if the fund is “extremely successful.”
Sound has a three-man founding team. Casper Breum and Kördel, who spent 12 years together at major VC Lundbeckfonden before going off on their own to start Sound, are based in Europe. And there’s a third man behind the curtain — Bibhash Mukhopadhyay.
Based out of Washington, DC, Mukhopadhyay used to be a principal at NEA. He was brought on board with Sound at the recommendation of Søren Møller, a managing partner at Novo Seeds, to bring on someone in the US.
“Møller made it clear to us that it’s going to be challenging for you to be financially successful, if you only invest in Scandinavia,” Kördel said.
And in the work we did with Lundbeckfonden Ventures, we invested half of our investments in the US and half in Europe — so we were already very attuned to having an international view on where to invest in life science. And we were encouraged by, okay, we really shouldn’t be looking at this as an international fund, with some similarities to what we had been doing before. And then it became clear that we would benefit from having somebody in the US.
The VC’s focus is on biotechs with candidates in clinical or late pre-clinical stages — and primarily within rare diseases. However, Kördel noted that Sound is not a huge fund, so while the partners like gene therapy and cell therapy, the CMC costs would be way higher compared to proteins and small molecules.
Møller told Endpoints that Novo engaged with Sound more directly between nine months and a year ago to get investment underway — but it was not the first time he had worked with the brains behind the operation at Sound. Kördel said that he had talked with Møller as far back as 2019 about striking out on his own alongside Breum, and Møller had been coaching them since the early stage of the Covid-19 pandemic.
And while Møller would not disclose the amount that Novo invested into Sound, he did say that the investment was more substantial than symbolic — and indicative of a potential long-term relationship.
“When we launch or when we cornerstone a new manager like this one, we definitely foresee to participate in the next fund and the next fund, so it’s a long term relationship,” Møller said.