Flagship Pioneering, the venture capital firm behind Moderna, has raised its largest fund as it aims to build the next generation of biotech companies.
The $3.4 billion fund is one of the largest pooled funds in the pharmaceutical industry and comes at a time of increasing investment. Floods in the sector, which is fueled by many companies in its early stages a race To create treatments and vaccines to counter COVID-19.
“Our expanded capital base will allow us to . . . conduct groundbreaking science, create businesses and grow under one roof,” said Nubar Avian, founder of Flagship.
Flagship VII fund consists of $2.2 billion raised from investors this year and $1.2 billion raised in 2020. The company plans to spread liquidity over the next three years.
Rather than searching for early-stage biotech for funding, the Massachusetts-based group is investing in developing technologies and creating businesses within its own four walls. Teams are built around specific areas of interest with the goal of rotating to form individual companies as research develops.
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It is not in the traditional sense of the word an investment fund. . . “Nothing of what we do comes from abroad,” Avian, who founded Flagship in 2000, told the Financial Times. “It is dedicated to advancing every vital platform we create within the company.”
The most well-known Flagship company is Moderna, founded in 2010 with the goal of developing mRNA therapies, and headed by Avian. Sell the vaccine maker $1.7 billion worth of Covid jabs In the first three months of the year, its share price has skyrocketed by more than 1,000 percent since the start of 2020.
Avian described Flagship’s strategy as “explorations” and “an unending attempt to create scientific progress coupled with product advancement”. He said Moderna’s vaccine development began with the question “if we can use a code molecule or some kind of molecule that can direct the body to make any drug we want.”
Flagship has $14.1 billion in assets under management and has spent $4.8 billion on its companies over the past four quarters. Drug discovery company Valo Health announced last week that it will go public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company.
Avian said the life sciences company is not focused on creating biotechnologies that treat specific diseases, but is instead looking to build platforms where the technologies can be used in a range of diseases. Moderna is currently conducting phase 1 trials of its mRNA technology on HIV and influenza.
Avian said Flagship scientists were particularly interested in developing machine learning tools that can understand the human body at a more complex and detailed level than humans, as well as the field of preventive medicine.
“The underlying health conditions have made this epidemic the devastation that it was because there are all these underlying health comorbidities that have made it worse,” he said. “We think we’ll see a world in the future where we’ll be able to intervene before diseases emerge.”
Flagship recently expanded by opening an office in London and hired Lord Ara Darzi, the former UK health minister, to lead its work on preventative medicines.