Venture Capital as a Strategic Partner: Fueling Innovation beyond Finance
The average level of investment required for a biotech start-up to succeed is increasing every year, elevating the pressure even further on venture capital to make smart financial investments. Financial investment alone, however, does not always guarantee that exciting innovations can be transformed into real businesses that make a meaningful difference to patients.
Beyond just capital
At Astellas Venture Management (AVM) – a wholly-owned venture capital organization within Astellas, headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area – capital is just one of the ingredients we offer to add value to our biotechnology investments and partnerships. We generally take a strategic investor approach for companies in our invested portfolio, providing access to expertise, technology and/or resources in addition to the injection of finance. An equity investment from AVM can include access to Astellas’ research and development (R&D) capabilities and expertise, and a global network of partner academic institutions and biotechnology companies, to help advance and accelerate the start-up’s innovation.
Amplifying expertise and resources
By strategically investing in private, early-stage companies that complement our existing Primary Focus R&D areas, we can offer partners access to people and resources that can help accelerate their research, while at the same time, we can gain early access to emerging biologies and breakthrough technology platforms that could enhance Astellas’ research strategy and pipeline. It is this two-way partnership which elevates venture capitalists from the role of financial investor to strategic partner.
Strategic investors with scientific backgrounds
For a strategic investor model to work, it is important that end goals are aligned and there is an understanding of each other’s roles and skillsets. At AVM, we have built our venture capital teams with scientists with first-hand drug discovery research and development experience. This unique set-up brings a new dimension to the relationships we build with our invested portfolio of companies – we speak their language and understand the science.
When we invest, partners know they are working with peers who are just as driven by innovative science as they are. We like to think that this gives AVM a unique combination of expertise and pragmatism in the boardroom, with a ‘can do’ attitude and approach to supporting research in the laboratory.
Utilizing incubators to access and nurture future innovation
As part of our strategic investor approach, we are also investing in world-leading life science incubators, such as those run by our partners MBC BioLabs in San Francisco and LabCentral in Boston, to provide us with a rich open-innovation network to identify and progress innovation from the earliest stages of discovery and research, foster productive collaborations, and enrich Astellas’ future R&D pipeline with cutting-edge external innovation. While for the entrepreneurs and academics working at the incubators, it gives them access to state-of-the-art lab facilities, lowering their operational costs, and the benefits of mentorship, experience and resources usually only available to larger companies.
Strategic venture capital that adds value to biotechs
When invested strategically, venture capital has the power to transform exciting innovations into real businesses that make a meaningful difference to patients and the healthcare professionals who treat them. While the creative spark is provided by the start-up, a financial investment and injection of resource from a strategic investment partner is often what helps set it ablaze and allows it to reach its potential.
As the world of venture capital continues to evolve, at AVM we are continuing to champion a mutually-beneficial, collaborative partnership model that allows financial investments to fuel innovation and ultimately, deliver meaningful innovations that change people’s lives.
We always want to hear from private companies with exciting scientific innovations that have the potential to make a genuine difference. To learn more about how we can help you accelerate scientific innovation into value for patients, please visit: www.astellas.com.