An unusual public-private venture capital fund targeting the biosciences is launching in New York with $150 million to deploy, three times the original goal.
The Early-Stage Life Sciences Funding Initiative (a refreshingly literal name for tech investment funds) combines $10 million of New York City money with $140 million from the Celgene Corp. (NASDAQ: CELG), GE Ventures and Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE: LLY).
The cash will be available for “the most promising research generated by the city’s academic medical institutions and leading entrepreneurs, creating and growing companies working on the leading edge of life sciences advances,” according to the New York Economic Development Corp.
First announced in December 2013 under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the initiative’s launch comes at a time when city and state officials are trying to bolster New York’s reputation as a biotechnology hub. Despite the city’s numerous academic medical institutions and research activity, bioscience as a profit-making industry remains a relative weakness. Last year, the Seattle-based Accelerator Corp. expanded here with a $51 million fund, hoping to fill a gap in funding for early-stage startups and spur the sector.
“For over a century, NYC has been a world leader for basic biomedical research and clinical care,” said Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen. “The investments we are making will activate the untapped economic potential of this sector, which is poised for enormous growth.”
Two venture capital firms will manage the funds on behalf of the partnership: Flagship Ventures, of Cambridge, Ma., and ARCH Venture Partners from Chicago. Flagship will direct investment in therapuetics and ARCH will guide deals in all other technologies.
“For nearly three decades ARCH has successfully identified and organized companies around leading scientific innovations nationally,” said Mark McDonnell, ARCH’s managing director. “We are eager to focus efforts in New York City.”