$100M Russian biotech fund opens shop in Boston

Russian investors want to own a piece of the U.S. biotech industry. In the latest sign of interest from Moscow, the Maxwell Biotech Venture Fund (MBVF) has opened the doors of its new office in the Back Bay area of Boston with plans to fund U.S. drug developers and medtech outfits that want to tap the Russian market.

MBVF, which is a $100 million fund formed by Russian Venture Company and the Russian financial firm Maxwell Asset Management, aims to enmesh itself in the Boston biotech scene with its new office, according to the group's press release. The venture group comes to the table with a track record of backing biotechs in Russia and other countries.

The VC group has timed its U.S. arrival incredibly well. Biotech startups are searching far and wide for cash to carry their development programs forward as some venture groups have fallen from the ranks of likely investors. Meanwhile, the VCs that have stuck to their guns in biotech have signaled a willingness to work with Big Pharma and other interested parties in getting young companies off the ground. And these groups have generally welcomed Russian capital with open arms.

RusNano, the Russian nanotech group, last year pumped $94.5 million into a pair of Boston-area biotechs, BIND Biosciences and Selecta Biosciences. Both biotechs committed to bring some of their research activities to Russia.

For its part, MBVF says it wants to back life sciences companies that want to bring some of their clinical development work to Russia but need help accessing that fast-growing market.

"Maxwell is proudly positioned as the first RVC fund with permanent operation in the U.S.," Alexey Eliseev, MBVF's managing director, said in a statement. "The opening of our new office in Boston puts the fund in close proximity to the source of cutting-edge innovation, ranging from top academic centers including Harvard and MIT to dozens of biotech and medtech companies."

- here's the release