Italian technology transfer company AurorA-TT has joined forces with drug discovery companies Rottapharm Biotech and Italfarmaco to launch the biotech investment enterprise AurorA Science to support early stage biotechs.
The partnership plans to invest €1–5M in each of one or two European start-ups this year. It is particularly focusing on promising biotechs in any area of unmet medical need, with a solid scientific proof-of-concept and intellectual property position. It aims to offer funding as well as guidance and professional networks to the companies that it funds.
Aurora Science is set to differ from current investment funds that offer mentoring for biotech start-ups because inclusion of the two industrial partners will allow them “to provide better, tailored evaluation of target companies through internal technical committees plus potential de-risking activities performed in-house,” Gabriele Campi, co-founder and Managing Partner of Aurora-TT, told me.
He added that while some venture capital companies have adopted similar investment models to accelerate the growth of startups, few have access to the number of scientists and the facilities that AurorA Science will thanks to the involvement of Rottapharm Biotech and Italfarmaco.
“The Partnership began with AurorA-TT presenting the project to Rottapharm Biotech which considered the idea intuitive and feasible and act as corner investor,” Campi explained.
“With Rottapharm Biotech on board we reasoned on the fact that having another industrial investor would boost our potential in terms of critical mass, internal skills and know-how, potential de-risking activities and financial muscles. Italfarmaco accepted the challenge and became our second investor.”
Aurora Science will be managed by AurorA-TT, which has a team with extensive biotechnology experience. This includes the launch of two successful start-ups in gene therapy, for example, Genenta Science. The companies have a combined fundraising of over €50M, venture capital exits with over €400M in cash or equity generated, and successful clinical development and marketing of more than 15 pharmaceutical products.
Campi hopes that in future there will be more of a common language between investors and scientists, especially in Europe, “meaning investors understand better that research is generally full of ‘grey areas’ and scientists put themselves in a less academic mind-set providing a less poetic approach to scientific development.”
He believes that Aurora Science “is a solid step towards the creation of an integrated ecosystem of investors, scientists and start-uppers.”
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