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Pfizer is set to invest $600mn in biotechnology

Pfizer (Getty Images)

Pfizer has revealed its plans to invest $600mn in biotechnology and other emerging growth companies through its venture investment arm, Pfizer Ventures. Additionally, it will extend its leadership as a venture capital investor with an expanded team which will leverage expertise across venture capital investing, business development, drug discovery and clinical development.

 “By expanding Pfizer’s venture capital efforts under Pfizer Ventures, we hope to extend both the breadth and depth of Pfizer’s support for the development of cutting-edge science from concept to products,” said Barbara Dalton, Ph.D., Vice President, Pfizer Worldwide Business Development and Senior Managing Partner of Pfizer Ventures.

“Building on our existing investments and proven track-record, we will look to identify and invest in emerging companies that are advancing compounds and technologies with the hope of delivering life-changing therapies to patients in need.”

Neuroscience Investment Strategy

Pfizer Ventures will seek to invest approximately 25% of its available capital ($150mn) in promising early-stage neuroscience companies. By leveraging an equity investment model, Pfizer can support a broad array of early neuroscience research and product development opportunities, which are critical in this nascent area of science.

“By changing the way we invest in neuroscience, we hope to support an energized community of biotech entrepreneurs who are progressing the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of neurologic diseases and help advance potential treatments for people with neurological conditions,” commented Denis Patrick, Ph.D., Vice President, Pfizer Worldwide Research and Development and Managing Partner of Pfizer Ventures.

Initial areas of interest for Pfizer Ventures include neuro-degeneration, neuro-inflammation and neuro-metabolic disorders, and other areas where rapidly advancing science could lead to breakthroughs for patients.

Six of Pfizer Ventures’ current portfolio company investments focus on breakthrough neuroscience, including Aquinnah, Autifony, Cortexyme, MindImmune, MISSION, and Neuronetics. In addition, Pfizer was instrumental in the creation, funding and launch of the Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF) in 2015.

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DDF is a specialist venture capital fund that invests in novel science to create meaningful new medicines for dementia. Since its launch in October 2015, DDF has raised more than $190mn and has made significant progress building an initial portfolio of 12 investments in dementia drug discovery companies and projects.

These investments target promising areas of neuroscience research such as microglial biology and inflammation, mitochondrial dynamics, trafficking and membrane biology and synaptic physiology and function.

“Pfizer’s investment in Aquinnah is helping advance two exciting Stress Granule neurodegenerative programs in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Alzheimer’s disease,” added Dr. Glenn Larsen, co-founder, President and CEO of Aquinnah.

“By being located in LabCentral within the Pfizer building in Kendall Square and through our joint efforts, Aquinnah has access to a leading group of scientific advisors, as well as state of the art technology facilities.”

Beyond neuroscience, Pfizer Ventures will continue to invest across a broad range of therapeutic areas of interest to Pfizer such as oncology, inflammation and immunology, rare disease, internal medicine and vaccines. Companies developing technologies that have the potential to transform drug discovery, development and manufacturing will also be considered.

Pfizer Ventures Team and Portfolio

Pfizer is also significantly expanding the Pfizer Ventures team, which will continue to be led by Dr. Dalton. Joining Pfizer’s current venture investing team of Elaine Jones and Bill Burkoth, are Dr. Patrick, and Laszlo Kiss, Margi McLoughlin, Chris O’Donnell and Nikola Trbovic.

The new organisation consolidates R&D Innovate, Pfizer’s R&D equity investment vehicle, with Pfizer Venture Investments, the Company’s long-standing venture investment group. The expanded team adds R&D expertise with a focus on neuroscience chemistry and pharmacology. With world-class expertise in drug discovery and clinical development, Pfizer Ventures expects to continue to generate strong returns for Pfizer while providing portfolio companies with the direction and support needed to accelerate advancement of critical therapies.

Pfizer Ventures actively manages an existing investment portfolio of more than 40 companies. Combined with approximately $500mn invested to date, the additional funding brings Pfizer Ventures’ total assets under management to more than $1bn. Recent investments include Adapsyn Bioscience, Complexa, Cydan II, DIR Technologies, eFFECTOR Therapeutics, Jnana Therapeutics, and Strata Oncology.

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