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GSK, J&J back Index's new $200M fund for early-stage deals

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GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson are teaming up with Index Ventures to launch a $200 million fund devoted exclusively to backing early-stage biotechs. And while its primary focus will be in Europe, the venture group intends to invest in biotechs throughout the U.S. as well.

Index takes what it calls an "asset centric" approach to investing, looking for developers with just one or two products--a classic feature of most start-ups. And some heavy hitters from GSK ($GSK) and J&J ($JNJ) will sit on the scientific advisory board of the new fund, giving a few early-stage companies a chance to mix with some top execs from companies they'll be hoping to partner with at some point. From GSK, R&D chief Moncef Slaoui (photo) and Paul-Peter Tak, head of GSK's immunoinflammation therapy area unit, will join Janssen's Paul Stoffels and Bill Hait, global head of R&D. They'll confer with Index Ventures' Francesco De Rubertis, Kevin Johnson, Michele Ollier, Roman Fleck, and Remy Luthringer.

"With its unique platform of entrepreneurs behind the execution of the 'asset centric' investing model, we believe Index is well positioned to create an exciting pipeline of drug candidates," said Slaoui in a statement.

"We believe that supporting and nurturing start-ups and encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation will be good for the entire industry," added Stoffels. "Partnerships like this one with Index Ventures and its 'asset centric' platform will enable us to enhance the probability of identifying early stage technologies in disease areas of high unmet need." 

- here's the press release