A new VC player debuts with global plans to invest $150M in biotech startups

Over the last few years there's been something of a shakeout among biotech venture investors. There are fewer big players, but with IPOs taking flight again, established venture groups are rolling out new funds collectively worth billions of dollars. And now a pair of Asian pharma companies is bankrolling a rare operation: a brand new VC organization--Remiges Ventures--that plans to go hunting for biotech startups in the U.S. and Europe.

Remiges' Taro Inaba

Taiho, a subsidiary of Otsuka, and Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma each committed $30 million to the new venture operation, which has offices in Cambridge, MA, and Tokyo. Taro Inaba--a veteran VC operator who had helmed Mitsui Ventures--is running the VC, which now has collected $70 million of a planned $150 million fund. Inaba has been a board member at a number of biotechs, including San Diego-based Actimis and Edison Pharmaceuticals. Walter Olesiak, another Mitsui veteran, is listed in SEC documents as a general partner.

In its release, Taiho said that the cancer drug developer is jumping in with plans to make the venture operation a kind of central command for scouting new collaborations around the world.

Noted the company: "Taiho hopes to use the investment in Remiges Fund as the platform for open innovation--an outreach for innovative technologies. Through Remiges' well-connected US-Japan cross border investment team, Taiho will be tapping into the US/Europe biotech start-up community and catalyze the company's R&D to deliver innovative cancer treatment to patients."

They may not have the biggest new fund this year, but it's evidently unique as a pure biotech VC startup. Remiges will be joining a growing group of venture players with new funds to play with. Just yesterday, Sofinnova closed a big $500 million fund, following closely on Versant's $300 million effort and Essex Woodlands' progress on a $750 million package. Add in Arch and Abingworth's plans along with other funds announced in 2013 and FierceBiotech roughly tallies the prospective total at close to $4 billion in a little more than a year.

- here's the release from Taiho
- here's the SEC document