Mark one in the win column for biotech venture capital in Europe. Wellington Partners has overcome a poor financial climate for raising new venture capital funds and attracted 70 million euros ($91.3 million) for the first closing of a new life sciences fund. With its fourth life sciences fund, the VC group is targeting a total of 120 million euros ($156 million), which would trump the 78 million euros ($101.4 million) that the firm raised for its third fund.
While some venture investors have vacated the risky life sciences, Wellington and its investors see opportunities to fuel privately held therapeutics, diagnostics and medical devices firms in Europe. The VC group has been an active player in the European venture arena, providing early backing for Swiss biotech heavyweight Actelion and scoring a win last year when Roche ($RHHBY) acquired its portfolio company mtm laboratories, a German diagnostics outfit, in deal worth up to 190 million euros ($247 million), among other victories.
Given such success stories, the firm said, repeat investors came through for the new fund and even increased their commitments. Wellington won support for the new fund from parties across Europe and in the U.S. and Middle East. It listed European Investment Fund (EIF), LfA Foerderbank Bayern, Austria Wirtschaftsservice GmbH and unnamed family offices as investors in the in the new fund, dubbed Wellington Partners IV Life Science.
"This first closing of our new, larger fund in a challenging financial environment is a big success and reflects the strength of our team and our approach to investment in this complex market," stated Dr. Rainer Strohmenger, a general partner at Wellington. "Numerous renowned investors are trusting in our ability to create value by selectively investing in the most promising and innovative private life science companies in Europe. The market environment is highly favorable because a majority of investors are currently neglecting this segment despite the fact that the life science market will be one of the most important growth drivers in the coming years."
Wellington joins the ranks of several other VC outfits in Europe that have won support for new funds this year despite difficult financial circumstances facing their industry. Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners, a prominent player in Europe's biotech scene, scored $152 million for its fourth life sciences fund in recent months. Also, GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) backed Index Ventures' $200 million fund announced in March that will invest in early-stage biotechs primarily in Europe but also in the U.S.
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