A South Korean investment firm starts first US biotech fund

A South Korean investment firm starts first US biotech fund

  19 Jan 2024

Mirae Asset Capital Life Science, a new venture capital fund, launched on Thursday, joining several other new firms that have recently emerged with plans to invest in drug startups.

The fund is a spinout of Mirae Asset Financial Group, a global investment firm headquartered in South Korea that has previously backed young biotechnology companies such as Septerna and Crossbow Therapeutics.

Mirae is starting with $50 million and intends to primarily invest in biotech startups developing new medicines. However, it will also be “opportunistic” in backing diagnostics developers and the makers of high-powered computing tools for drug discovery. The firm plans to invest in companies looking for seed to Series C rounds, and will support startups through to an “exit,” such as an initial public offering or acquisition.

Mirae said its focus will be on cancer, immunology, metabolic diseases, eye disorders and inherited conditions.

The firm is led by Naveen Krishnan, a biotech veteran who previously oversaw Bayer’s venture arm. With offices in Boston and San Francisco, the firm is managing Mirae’s first U.S. fund focused on life science companies.

Mirae is beginning with at least one investment already made. The company is leading a $75 million Series C round for a developer of targeted cancer drugs, with an announcement expected “in the coming weeks.” In a statement, Krishnan said the fund will “remain committed to finding the best companies that can bring therapies to patients who need them most.”

Naveen M. Krishnan is the managing director of Mirae Asset Capital Life Science.

Permission granted by Mirae Asset Financial Group

 

Mirae joins a handful of new biotech venture funds, among them Cure Ventures, Bioluminescence Ventures and Dimension. Mirae’s fund, while on the smaller size, adds to the sizable totals recently raised by healthcare-focused venture funds in the U.S. A report released this week by Silicon Valley Bank noted that such firms raised $19 billion in 2023, the third-best year on record.

Much of that cash hasn’t been put to use yet. SVB’s data shows the number of venture deals closed by drugmakers fell by a quarter between 2022 and 2023. Those that have been the most successful have “strong clinical assets,” SVB wrote.

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