Novo Holdings has launched the REPAIR impact fund commissioned by the Novo Nordisk Foundation. The goal is to invest into early-stage drug developers with new concepts to fight antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
“The REPAIR (Replenishing and Enabling the Pipeline for Anti-Infective Resistance) impact will have an investment horizon of €135m over three to five years and will support early-stage innovation targeting drug-resistant pathogens, particularly the priority pathogens defined by the CDC and the WHO lists”, Aleks Engel, Partner at Novo Holding, which will manage the fund for the Novo Foundation, told European Biotechnology. The 12 priority pathogens, a catalogue of families of bacteria, mostly Gram-negative, pose the greatest threat to human health. According to current estimates, more than 700,000 people die each year from infections resistant to most or all antibiotics, and the number is increasing by the day.
“We have decided to fund programmes via investments not grants because we believe that the problem of a thin pipeline to a large degree is caused by a poor commercial outlook for these products,” said Engels. The fund is expected to invest US$20-40m annually over 3–5 years in about 20 projects starting from lead optimisation to the end of Phase I in Europe and the United States, which is anticipated to yield at least one new therapy reaching the market.
Projects will be selected by a high-ranking Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) chaired by antiinfectious expert George Griffin from St. George’s University of London, including industry members who have seen a lot of failures to pick the winners.
There will be two sorts of investments: One is a royalty-based investment, the other instrument is a convertible loan. The REPAIR Impact Fund will invest US$1-15m per start-up, early-stage company or corporate spin-out whose ambitious programmes address antimicrobial resistance through a broad range of therapeutic modalities. The first round of investments dedicated to European companies will start in April 2018 and non-confidential presentations can be sent until 15 May 2018. The first investments are expected by the end of 2018. A second round of investments focusing on United States companies will start in autumn 2018.
Kasim Kutay, CEO of Novo Holdings, said: “We have established this impact fund to provide a fresh approach to a global healthcare challenge. With our scale, vision and capabilities, we are able to provide the essential strategic and financial support to these projects. This approach embodies our ethos to leave a positive and meaningful impact on health and society through our investments in life science. We are looking to increase investments of this type in the coming years, and we are excited about our potential to make a significant difference in improving global healthcare.”
Further details of the fund will be presented at 11th Berlin Conference on Novel Antimicrobials & AMR Diagnostics on 2 March, which is conducted by BIOCOM in partnership with the BEAM alliance.