Joint Polish Investment Fund Management (JPIF) is claiming a first. The Warsaw, Poland-based group has reportedly become the country's first institutional venture capital fund dedicated to life sciences after it held the initial closing of its $42 million (€38 million) investment vehicle.
|Dr. Axel Polack|
JPIF has gathered together some established names to give it credibility as it moves into uncharted territory. Dr. Marek Orlowski, a co-founder of Nepentes, is one of the partners. Sanofi ($SNY) bought Nepentes for €105 million in 2010. The list of partners also includes Kreske Nickelsen and Dr. Axel Polack, who respectively held senior positions at Dutch medical VC shop Aescap Venture and renowned life science investor TVM Capital. Pharma veteran Anna Aranowska is also on board.
The team plans to play a lower-risk game than some VC shops by looking for drug development programs that are close to market and have a low barrier to entry. As there is a very limited number of such drugs that fall within the budget of a €42 million VC fund, JPIF is also looking to invest in medical device and mobile health players. Strong growth, relatively short holding periods and high return potential is the dream combination for JPIF.
Within these parameters, JPIF is willing to consider a broad spectrum of life science companies, but its geographic focus is far more restrictive. JPIF is in Poland, for Poland. Companies must have a strong tie to Poland, either through the location of their headquarters, significant operations, shareholders or intellectual property. Foreign businesses with a call center in Poland need not apply. The criteria seriously limit the number of targets available to JPIF but represent a boost to Polish businesses.
The potential to deliver such a boost is why Poland's National Centre for Research and Development (NCBR) backed JPIF. NCBR's remit covers tasks relating to the state's scientific policies, a role it thinks it can fulfil by adding to the sources of capital available to firms. "Participation of venture capital funds... is of key importance because the private funding adds to the public money, which is always in short supply," acting NCBR Director Professor Krzysztof Jan Kurzydlowski said in a statement.
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