Flagship Ventures

Flagship Ventures

Dollars: $67.9 million
Deals: 18
Based: Cambridge, MA
Website: flagshipventures.com
Founded: 2000

Flagship Ventures was founded back in 2000, and the investment group is now managing about a billion dollars of investment cash. Its latest fund brought in $270 million, significantly more than the $250 million targeted by its partners. And they're using that money--including cash contributed by Merck ($MRK)--to continue an early-stage focus that has proved quite successful over the years.

"In the pharma industry there's a greater sense that innovation has to be more efficient and more predictable," says Flagship CEO Noubar Afeyan. Some of that innovation they want to have in-house, "but they also realize they have to go outside to access innovation."

And when they do go outside, they often find a Flagship company to work with.

Flagship CEO Noubar Afeyan

Flagship is working in collaboration with Merck officials on fostering biotech startups. One of Flagship's highest profile deals in recent times was for Moderna Therapeutics. Flagship helped assemble a $40 million startup round near the end of 2012, and just a few months later AstraZeneca ($AZN) stepped up with a $420 million collaboration, designed to advertise the new CEO's taste for cutting-edge science.

Look back over the years and you'll see a string of successful investments in biotechs like Adnexus--acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) in 2007 for $505 million. And Flagship is investing in companies like Abbie Celniker's Eleven Biotherapeutics and Blend Therapeutics, inspired by lab work from MIT's prolific Robert Langer and his former grad student Omid Farokhzad.

For more:
Langer biotech adds $16M in venture cash to back next-gen cancer drugs
Biotech upstart Moderna nails down $40M for bold RNA idea
Flagship Ventures CEO keeps Merck aboard to inform biotech bets

-- John Carroll (email | Twitter)

Flagship Ventures