Longitude plots a course to a $525M biotech fund, new Taiho group targets cancer

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Yet another new biotech venture fund is in the works. Longitude Venture Partners III has set its sights on a $525 million raise, according to an SEC filing on Tuesday.

Longitude Capital’s new fund will look to dwarf its last roundup, which raised $385 million in the fall of 2012, just as the big biotech IPO window was opening up for an historic run. This time around, Longitude is raising cash as the window has been falling. These days, gene editing companies are still welcome on Nasdaq, but the rest of the biotech crowd is finding it increasingly harder to launch onto the public market, making exits a trickier proposition for VCs.

Longitude lists 25 biotechs in its portfolio, including Civitas, Aimmune and Esperion. The venture group, based in Menlo Park, CA and Greenwich, CT, has more than $700 million under management, and will likely shoot to almost double that amount in one turn. 

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The surge in venture investing over the last three years topped out in 2015 with record sums for startups. During the first quarter of this year the NVCA tracked $1.8 billion in biotech venture investing in the U.S., right on track with the same frenzied period a year ago. BioWorld, meanwhile, reports that European biopharma investing hit $725 million year-to-date, well ahead of the $388 million seen in the same period a year ago.

Tokyo-based Taiho Pharmaceuticals, meanwhile, has set aside $50 million to launch a new venture arm which will be based in California and back new biotechs around the world focused on cancer research. 

“Taiho Ventures will be investing globally in the start-up companies that discover and develop innovative therapeutic products and/or drug-enabling platform technologies that demonstrate a clear potential to benefit cancer patients,” the company said in a statement. “With the support of Taiho’s established expertise in the field of oncology product discovery and development, Taiho Ventures will provide financial resources and company outreach to build strategic alliances to help translate novel research and high-potential drug candidates into cornerstone products.”

- here's the SEC filing

- here's the Taiho release

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