Big Pharma Assists BGV Reach Funding Goal


Bristol-Myers Squibb and Johnson & Johnson have allocated funds in BioGeneration Ventures (BGV) third fund. The company’s involvement helped BGV blow through its fundraising goal, hitting its goal of $95 million U.S. dollars to invest in early-stage life science companies throughout Europe. At first BGV set out to raise €50 million. That fundraising goal was already larger than the two earlier funds put together, but it showed to misjudge the level of interest. BGV looked to its existing investors for the fund’s first close prior to closing its net wider and seeing its previous successes had caught the eye of other financiers.

The investments that standout from BGV’s second fund were Dezima Pharma and Acerta Pharma, which were acquired by Amgen and AstraZeneca, individually, for multibillion-dollar. Edward van Wezel, managing partner at BGV, believes the exits were “obviously a reason” new investors increased their interest in the fund.

“It validated the fact that there is a possibility to be very successful, even with early-stage companies, in this region of the world. And that then triggered investors to get excited and come to us,” van Wezel stated.

Bristol-Myers and J&J, two of the Big Pharma companies BGV keeps relationships with, viewed the fund as a good fit for their overseas strategies.

BGV also influenced private equity investment group Schroder Adveq to invest the money. Van Wezel reported Schroder’s interest in funds such as BGV is fresh. Having also locked in cash from MAN Pension Trust, BGV has a wider portfolio of investors than previous, a fact van Wezel sees as vital for the continuity of future funds and the potential co-investment opportunities it creates.

With the fund now being closed, BGV’s attention will move entirely to putting the cash to use. BGV has already invested in five companies, such as German immuno-oncology startup Catalym and Dutch blood clotting biotech VarmX. As a whole, the VC firm is looking to invest in about 15 companies, up from the 12 to 14 it targeted when it held the first close in 2016.

The characteristics of the initial clutch of portfolio companies signify BGV’s focus on university spinouts, primarily in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, and its intention to made therapeutics 70% to 75% of its portfolio. BGV will allocate the rest of its cash into medical device and diagnostic startups.


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