Flagship raises $285M special ops fund, changes name

After 17 years, Flagship is tweaking its identity again to show off its pioneering philosophy, as the venture firm also announces the close of a new $285 million fund.

First up, the new name: Being 17 can cause a desire to change in all of us, and apparently, corporations can be anthropomorphic as Flagship Ventures has now become “Flagship Pioneering.”

Why? The name change: “Reflects the distinctive nature of its enterprise: systematically conceiving, creating, resourcing and growing first-in-category ventures to transform human health and sustainability,” the firm says in a statement.

It was originally called “NewcoGen” (from New Company Generation), when it launched in 1999, changing to Flagship Ventures in 2002 after it bought out the company. 

Will this make any difference to its outlook, funding streams or strategy? Probably not, but the PR does get journalists writing about them and their past achievements, as you can see, so kudos to the marketing department. The new name comes into place today.

There is however a little more meat on the bone of the update given that the firm has also $285 million “Special Opportunities” growth-equity capital pool.

This pool will work alongside Flagship's most recent Fund V, which totalled $585 million and closed last year.

This brings the total overall funds managed by Flagship Ventures/Pioneering to $1.75 billion.

Noubar Afeyan, founder and CEO of Flagship, said the special ops fund, a.k.a. (and slightly confusingly) known as Flagship Ventures Opportunities Fund I, will be “deployed into select portfolio companies.”

He added: “Flagship's operational scale and resources for founding and launching the next generation of breakthrough ventures have recently expanded.

“Through the innovative, opportunities-fund structure, we will now substantially increase investment into the growth-phase of select ventures and fuel an accelerated path to value creation while increasing Flagship's return on pioneering innovation.”