Euro VC veteran gathers €63M for Belgium-based life science fund

Belgian VC shop V-Bio Ventures has raised €63 million ($67 million) to invest in life science startups. The newly formed fund has a remit to back new and emerging biotechs from across Europe, but with strong ties to VIB, the Belgian research institute that spawned Ablynx (EBR:ABLX), is likely to funnel a chunk of its cash into local companies.

Christina Takke

Christina Takke, a former partner at Dutch life science VC firm Forbion Capital Partners, set up V-Bio earlier this year with Willem Broekaert, whose background leans towards plant sciences. The pair have established strong ties to VIB, giving V-Bio an early look at science that could underpin the next generation of Belgian biotechs. As it stands, V-Bio has €63 million at its disposal, although further closings could add to this figure. Belgium business magazine Trends reports the fund could top out at €75 million. V-Bio has turned to a range of sources to round up the investment to date.

The European Investment Fund (EIF) is the cornerstone investor in the VC vehicle, which also pulled in cash from ARKimedes, Korys and KU Leuven. Takke thinks the relationship with VIB and the flow of investment ideas it will provide mean V-Bio is well positioned to dole out the cash effectively. "We expect to benefit from [VIB's] profound know how and business expertise in the field," Takke said in a statement. If the relationship works as expected, VIB should benefit, too, particularly given that early-stage Belgium biotechs can struggle to get notice in the hubs of global life science financing.

Gent, Belgium-based V-Bio will provide such early-stage companies with a local source of capital. Takke and Broekaert see V-Bio offering startups more than just money, though. "Our goal is to also support young companies in setting up and developing their business, and through this steer them to international success," Broekaert said. Both have experience of this process. Takke took a seat on the supervisory board of arGEN-X (EBR:ARGX) in 2009 after Forbion co-led a €9.5 million investment, while Broekaert co-founded a digestive health company and led it to a takeover by Cargill.

- read the release
- and Trends' take (Flemish)