(Reuters) - The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said it would invest $52 million in CureVac, a German biotechnology company that develops vaccines and immunotherapies, marking the foundation’s biggest-ever equity investment.
Privately held CureVac uses its proprietary mRNA technology, which allows for rapid low-cost production of drugs and vaccines, to teach the human body to produce proteins capable of fighting a wide range of diseases.
The investment will support development of CureVac’s technology and the construction of a production facility. CureVac and the foundation will also collaborate to develop vaccines to fight infectious disease.
“This collaboration will ensure that one of medicine’s most promising new technologies is applied to the challenge of reaching all people with the affordable, life-saving vaccines they need,” said Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The foundation will also fund multiple projects developing vaccines for viral, bacterial and parasitic infectious diseases that disproportionately affect people in the world’s poorest countries, apart from the equity investment.
As part of the deal, any Gates Foundation-funded products will be made available by CureVac at affordable prices in poor countries.
Bill Gates, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), and wife Melinda set up the Gates Foundation to fight disease and poverty around the world.
Established in 2000, the foundation distributed $3.6 billion in grants in 2013, in particular for global health and development, and had $42.3 billion in assets as of late 2014.
Reporting by Natalie Grover in Bengaluru