Medicxi founds biotech creation engine C21Med

David Grainger and Richard Mason (Medicxi/J&J)

Medicxi has created an “ideas factory” to boost its capacity to turn early-stage science into pipelines of drug candidates and startups to develop them. The VC fund is setting up the venture with its CSO, David Grainger, Ph.D., and Johnson & Johnson’s Richard Mason, M.D. 

Anglo-Swiss investment group Medicxi made its name creating biotechs and taking them to key data readouts on lean budgets. The story of XO1, which Mason ran, exemplifies the approach. Medicxi, then called Index Ventures, created the anticoagulant biotech and led an $11 million investment in 2013. Two years later, a team consisting of two full-time staff led it to a takeover by J&J.

Medicxi has since broadened its scope, notably by adding a late-phase fund, but helping researchers turn scientific insights into drug assets remains central to its business. Setting up The Foundation Institute for 21st Century Medicine, abbreviated to C21Med, is intended to further these activities.

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“It’s the same model Medicxi have been operating for a decade,” Grainger said on Twitter. “C21Med is simply an increase in scale and capacity.”

Grainger will continue to serve as CSO of Medicxi while supporting C21Med as its co-founder. The other co-founder, Mason, is currently head of J&J’s European innovation center. Grainger and Mason last worked together on XO1.

The pair are now looking to provide Medicxi with a pipeline of future successes. C21Med will filter through scientific research, latch onto the most promising ideas and put them through tests to show whether they can support a drug development program. Beyond that, Medicxi can contribute to the resulting startups' near- and potentially long-term financing needs through its two funds. 

In rolling out a late-stage fund and biotech creation engine in its two years as a standalone entity, Medicxi has bolstered its ability to found startups and equipped itself to stay with them deeper into the clinic.