Wellcome Trust to launch 200 million pounds biotech fund

LONDON Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:16am GMT

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LONDON (Reuters) - The Wellcome Trust medical charity is creating a new 200 million pounds ($318 million) fund to make long-term investments in start-up biotechnology companies, it said on Tuesday.

The primary goal is to generate "excellent returns" for the Wellcome Trust, to help it fund further biomedical research, but the new venture will also be a valuable prop to young British life sciences companies, which often struggle to win backing.

Financing for biotech businesses with unproven products has become more difficult to secure since the financial crisis as investors have grown more risk averse.

The Wellcome Trust said it aimed to contribute proactively to the development of companies over the long term, for example by bringing together complementary expertise from different companies and scientific fields.

Currently operating under the working title Project Sigma, the fund will be chaired by Nigel Keen, founder of Deltex Medical (DEMG.L), with former MVM Life Science partner Martin Murphy as chief executive.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters)

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