Sanofi pumps $750M into VC unit to push deeper into biotech investing

Sanofi has thrown its financial weight behind its venture capital unit, making a $750 million, multi-year commitment to enable the financier to build on a year in which it backed 10 companies globally.

Sanofi Ventures is a well-established player in the biotech VC space, with its roots dating back to the formation of Sanofi-Genzyme BioVentures in 2011 and beyond that to the establishment of Genzyme Ventures a decade earlier. But Sanofi has largely stayed in the shadows, leaving its venture unit to build out a portfolio without publicly disclosing the details of how it supports the fund. 

The release of details of a $750 million commitment changes that. And, as Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson sees things, marks the start of a new phase in the French drugmaker’s relationship with biotech investing. 

“As we continue to build our best-in-class pipeline, we are investing in early stage companies that share our ambition of delivering transformative science and digital innovation, Hudson said in a statement. “This capital commitment signals Sanofi’s accelerated ambitions in the venture capital community and our continued desire to collaborate with global innovators in the best interests of patients,” Hudson said in a statement. 

The commitment follows a busy 2022 for Sanofi Ventures, in which it participated in financing rounds at companies including streptococcus vaccine developer Minervax, immune disease startup Matchpoint Therapeutics and neurosensory-inflammatory player Escient Pharmaceuticals. Sanofi Ventures kept up its momentum into 2023, starting the new year by co-leading an investment in immuno-oncology startup NextPoint Therapeutics.

The new additions to Sanofi Ventures’ portfolio join a storied list of companies including bluebird bio and Ultragenyx that have received cash from the VC shop. Companies that take up the offer of investment from Sanofi Ventures receive cash, plus the promise of access to Sanofi’s expertise in areas including preclinical and clinical development, regulatory, manufacturing and market access.