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Venture Fund Plans $350M for Biotech Start-Ups

Investment graphic

(Gerd Altmann, Pixabay)

5 Aug. 2020. A new venture fund plans investments in early-stage life science companies addressing critical needs in therapeutics, but also agriculture and industrial biotechnology. Data Collective DCVC in San Francisco and Palo Alto, California says it raised $350 million for its DCVC Bio II fund for start-up companies creating what it calls deep tech solutions for challenges presented by climate change and the global food supply, as well as health care.

DCVC Bio II follows its DCVC Bio I fund that began in 2018. Among the investments from the earlier fund reported on most recently by Science & Enterprise are AbCellera Biologics in Vancouver, British Columbia, developing engineered antibodies to treat Covid-19 infections with drug maker Eli Lilly and Co. In May, AbCellera raised $105 million in its second venture round, with DCVC taking part, as well as in AbCellera’s earlier venture round.

In June 2019, DCVC took part in the first venture round for Frontier Medicines Corp. in South San Francisco, a spin-off enterprise from labs at University of California in Berkeley, creating treatments that target cancer-causing proteins considered unreachable with current therapies. In addition, DCVC led the December 2018 seed round for GenEdit Inc. in Berkeley, California, also a UC – Berkeley spin-off business, developing nanoscale particles to deliver gene-editing enzymes, including those for Crispr.

DCVC says it raised the $350 million in its second fund completely during the pandemic, citing the increased public attention to biotechnology from the critical need for vaccines and treatments. The company says it’s looking for start-up biotech companies with solutions that can make a difference dealing with today’s pressing health problems, but also targeting the next pandemic or big climate emergency, easing disruptions in global food supply chains, or creating high-performance yet sustainable industrial materials.

DCVC cites AbCellera as an example of that kind of business, first developing a technology platform to address the overall global threat of pandemics, which enables its urgent response to today’s needs for therapies and vaccines to combat Covid-19. The company says its DCVC Bio II limited partners — part-owners providing investment capital, but not managing the fund — share the managers’ objectives and outlook.

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