LONDON, June 20 GlaxoSmithKline is
investing 17.5 million euros ($23.5 million) in a new venture
fund to invest in drugs for rare diseases, underscoring the
growing role of big drugmakers in backing start-up companies.
GSK and many of its rivals are becoming more active in
funding early-stage companies, reflecting both a desire to tap
into smart ideas from outside their own laboratories and a
scarcity of finance from many traditional venture capital firms.
The new Kurma Biofund II fund, which has raised 44 million
euros to date, is the first venture capital fund dedicated to
financing innovation in the rare diseases field by working with
a network of European research institutes.
The fund is being led by French firm Kurma Life Sciences
Partners, with other investors CDC Entreprises, Idinvest
Partners and New Enterprise Associates, the companies said on
Rare diseases are a growing focus for drug companies, which
can achieve high prices and make good profits from medicines
that make a real impact on treating serious illnesses, even if
only a small number of patients are prescribed the therapy.
In April GSK made a bigger bet in the venture capital field
by partnering with Avalon Ventures in a deal worth up to $495
million to fund as many as 10 drug discovery start-up companies
over the next three years.