Investor behind Moderna raises $ 3.4 billion biotech fund

Flagship Pioneering, the venture capital firm behind Moderna, has raised its largest fund with the aim of building the next generation of biotech companies.

The $ 3.4 billion fund is one of the largest raised in the pharmaceutical industry and comes at a time when investment is flock to the area, fueled by the many start-ups races manufacture treatments and vaccines to fight Covid-19.

Noubar Afeyan, Founder of Flagship, said: “The expanded capital base will enable us to. . . lead pioneering science, business creation and growth under one roof.

Flagship Fund VII includes $ 2.2 billion raised from investors this year and $ 1.2 billion raised in 2020. The company plans to deploy the cash over the next three years.

Rather than looking for start-up biotechnology to finance, the Massachusetts-based group invests in technology development and business creation within its own walls. Teams are formed around specific areas of interest with the aim of forming individual companies as research develops.

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“It is not in the traditional sense of the word an investment fund. . . nothing we do comes from the outside, ”Afeyan, who founded Flagship in 2000, told the Financial Times. “He is dedicated to advancing every organic platform that we invent in-house.”

Flagship’s most renowned company is Moderna, which was formed in 2010 with the aim of developing mRNA-based therapies, and chaired by Afeyan. The vaccine manufacturer sold $ 1.7 billion in Covid jabs in the first three months of the year and its share price has climbed more than 1,000% since the start of 2020.

Afeyan described Flagship’s strategy as “explorations” and “an unlimited attempt to create scientific breakthroughs coupled with product breakthroughs”. He said vaccine development at Moderna began by asking “if we could use a code molecule or some kind of molecule that could instruct the body to make any drug we wanted.”

Flagship has $ 14.1 billion in assets under management and has spent $ 4.8 billion on its companies in the past four quarters. Last week, its drug discovery company, Valo Health, announced it would go public by merging with a specialty acquisition company.

Afeyan said the life science company does not focus on creating biotechnologies that will tackle specific diseases, but rather seeks to create platforms where technologies can be used in a range of diseases. Moderna is currently conducting Phase 1 trials of its mRNA technology in HIV and influenza.

Flagship scientists were particularly interested in advancing machine learning tools that can understand the human body at a more complex and granular level than humans, as well as the field of preventive medicine, Afeyan said.

“The underlying health conditions made this pandemic the devastation it was because there were all these underlying health comorbidities that made it worse,” he said. “We believe that we will see a world in the future where we can intervene before diseases arise.”

Flagship recently expanded by opening an office in London and hired Lord Ara Darzi, a former UK Minister for Health, to lead its work on preventative drugs.

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