Pivotal bioVenture Partners debuts $150M China-focused biotech fund

The Nan Fung Group’s venture capital firm Pivotal bioVenture Partners has raised a $150 million venture fund to help early-stage life science companies located within China.

The new fund will focus on in-licensing products and technologies that can serve the “unmet medical needs of the growing China market,” and will be led by Pivotal China’s managing partner Jimmy Wei, who says additional fundraising could follow later this year in the form of a $50 million renminbi fund.

Last year, Pivotal bioVenture Partners announced an inaugural $300 million fund last year that is focused on biotechs in the U.S. and Europe, which in the interim has backed a handful of companies including infectious disease specialists Entasis, Iterum and Sutrovax as well as ocular therapeutics player Oculus.

“China is catching up in healthcare innovation,” says Wei, who was formerly managing partner at iBridge Capital and a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) China, helping with the formation of companies such as Zai Lab, JHL Biotech, XW Lab and iMab. Prior to that, he held senior positions at Hutchison MediPharma and Burrill & Co.

He explains that the intention is to create an ecosystem of new companies that can funnel technologies developed around the world—including therapeutics, medical devices and diagnostics and healthcare services—more quickly and efficiently to patients in China.

“We are doing this by building one of the most experienced teams among our peers, and by combining a broad global exposure with strong expertise in the local Chinese market,” says Wei.

So far just one company is highlighted on Pivotal China’s website, namely Shanghai and Boston biotech Oncologie, which is developing next-generation biologics and small molecules in the area of immuno-oncology. Its lead in-licensed candidates are toll-like receptor 9 agonist lefitolimod, in late-stage development, and TIM/TAM antibody candidate bavituximab in phase 2 for head and neck cancer.

Pivotal bioVenture Partners firm was created by the Nan Fung Group, a Chinese property developer in Hong Kong.