Venture, Venture Capital

Vesalius bags €65M biotech fund while Novartis vet Guidi canvases for a €50M gamble on Italian scientists

The Luxembourg-based biotech venture firm Vesalius Biocapital has raised more than €65 million for its third fund, which will remain open in search of additional cash.

Vesalius has been broadening its horizons beyond late-stage European investments in drug development, medtech, diagnostics and eHealth/mHealth, opening an office in Boston to see if it can get in on some of the US syndicates.

Guido Guidi

Vesalius has enjoyed a few significant exits recently, including Ogeda (acquired by Astellas for €800 million), Activaero (sold to Vectura for €130 million), Genkyotex (reverse merger on Euronext) and Fovea (acquired by Sanofi for €370 million).

Novartis vet Guido Guidi, meanwhile, is working on raising a €50 million fund for AuraA-TT, which is wagering on Italian scientists looking to translate discovery into new therapies. Guidi and his co-founders are planning to work with universities, research centers, technology transfer offices, biotechnology companies and patient associations in Italy to find new therapies to foster.

“We bet on Italian scientists,” says Guidi. “Technology transfer in Italy is still in its infancy. To tackle it and foster a premiere role for Italy in the creation of value from high-quality research, it is necessary to couple economic resources with a committed team with a partnership attitude and a strong track record in enabling a scientific breakthrough into viable therapies for patients in need.”

Pierluigi Paracchi

Pierluigi Paracchi, the CEO and co-founder at Milan-based gene therapy biotech Genenta Sciences, is working with the group as a venture consultant.

Both funds represent a significant new addition to the European biotech venture scene, which traditionally has had less money to work with than US venture partners. And Vesalius is one of several groups like Sofinnova in Paris which have been working on building transatlantic ties.

Dr. Christian Schneider, managing partner at Vesalius Biocapital III, noted:

“While the primary focus is investing in Europe, we want to provide a bridge to enable European companies to access US capital markets, and for North American companies to have access to Europe for development, expansion or access to innovation. To this extent, we have set up a Boston-based US presence to provide support to the portfolio and evaluate new opportunities.”

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