Drug Development

Thinking bigger, Arch Venture closes in on $550M-plus biotech fund

Robert Nelson, Arch Ventures

Robert Nelson, Arch Ventures

Arch Venture Partners is well along the way to raising a new $550 million-plus fund.

The VC group has posted new forms with the SEC stating that the partners have raised more than $408 million for Arch Venture Fund IX. But it’s unlikely to stop at $550 million. These days, biotech start-up groups like Arch have made it a point of pride to come in over target on the cash. And these partners like to make a splash.

Arch is well known for power plays, backing the likes of Juno, now public, and aging R&D startup Unity. It is an active player in new syndicates for neuroscience companies like Denali and the upstart BlackThorn, going back into a sector abandoned by many of the top pharma companies. And it likes to play in a big field, with offices in Seattle, Austin, Chicago, San Francisco and Europe.

“Generally,” Arch co-founder Bob Nelsen told me back in 2014, when they were rolling out their last $400 million-plus fund, “we’re thinking bigger. We believe that what we do well is take large risks on horizontal platforms.”

Evidently, that target is about to get even bigger.

While the biotech IPO market has been buffeted this year by high headwinds in the face of heavy risk, Arch and other biotech-dedicated funds have continued to pump billions into R&D. As Third Rock, Sofinnova, Arch and others have shown this year, though, institutional investors’ interest in making private investments in new drug development efforts remains strong.


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