The high-profile biotech investor Sir Chris Evans has inspired the Welsh government to commit £50 million to a new life sciences fund, which will look for matching cash to double the size of the effort. And Evans believes he can rope in private investors willing to contribute £200 million to the cause, potentially setting up an operation with more than $375 million.
Wales is starting out with £25 million now with plans to chip in another £25 million next year. Their goal is to create a biotech hub that can attract venture cash from outside the region and spin out new companies, creating an engine for economic growth. And Evans sees a day when the fund can earn back more money that can continue to be invested in the field.
"We will be looking at doing packages of investment between £500,000 and £10 million in any one company," Sir Chris told a biotech crowd in Wales, according to a report in WalesOnline. "Where it's the bigger number, say £5 million, we would expect some of that to be co-investment which we would bring in from elsewhere in the UK and elsewhere."
Sir Chris is no stranger to big plans. He runs the Merlin venture funds at the Excalibur group and he's been spotlighted as a key figure behind the shadowy NCPharma, which has reportedly gathered substantial backing to launch a major new drug development effort. A year ago he was brought in by the Welsh government to advise officials on biotech policy. He evidently arrived with some ambitious plans.
The news put Wales' biotech industry squarely in the spotlight, a rare occasion for the group. Most of the attention for the country's R&D industry has been centered around Cambridge and in London, where government officials have been working on their own biotech support programs.
- here's the report from WalesOnline
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