IBionext moves into VC financing with €46M first close of growth fund

IBionext Growth Fund has pulled in close to half of the €100 million ($113 million) it hopes to raise to invest in biotech and healthcare startups. The VC fund, which is an extension of the iBionext network that spawned GenSight Biologics (EPA:SIGHT), is planning to use the money to create new companies in Paris.

As of the first close of its fund, iBionext has €46 million to carry out its plan and ambitions to more than double this number before it finishes fundraising. IBionext has turned to a diverse group of financiers for the first tranche of funding, with Bpifrance’s Biotech & Healthcare Acceleration Fund joined by as-yet-unnamed international investors, insurance companies and family offices on the list of organizations that are bankrolling the VC fund.

Each of the investors is hoping iBionext can turn the track record of the incubator it has grown out of into a source of financial returns. The incubator, which predates the VC fund by four years, has given a start to Novartis ($NVS)-backed gene therapy player GenSight and a pair of notable med tech firms, Pixium Vision (EPA:PIX) and Gecko Biomedical. GenSight raised approximately €64 million in Series A and B rounds, before adding a further €40 million by listing in Paris earlier this year.

IBionext watched these financings from the sidelines, but, with its new growth fund, plans to play a leading role in the Series A rounds of companies in its network from now on. The addition of the VC wing gives iBionext both an additional way to support its startups and a chance to profit from their success. To lead this work, iBionext has hired Alexia Perouse, a veteran of the French life science VC scene who has spent stints at Omnes Capital and Sofinnova Partners.

“IBionext operates with a very entrepreneurial approach designed to meet the challenges that innovative healthcare companies can face, from creation to growth, with the goal of creating leaders in their field,” iBionext CEO Perouse said in a statement.

This approach is centered upon a site in Paris that GenSight, Pixium, Gecko and the other startups in the iBionext stable call home. Yet, while the companies have congregated in Paris, their scientific roots span the globe. GenSight is underpinned by science that emerged in France, Switzerland and the U.S., specifically the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Medical School. Another iBionext startup, BrainEver, is the result of the fusion of science from France and Harvard.

IBionext plans to continue tapping into its international network as it builds and funds its next wave of startups.