Japanese pharma company invests in Avlar

The UK biotech fund has attracted the venture arm of Yamanouchi Pharmaceutical to its second fund.

Avlar BioVentures, the UK biotechnology VC firm, has announced that Yamanouchi Venture Capital LLC [YVC], a subsidiary of Yamanouchi Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd, the third largest pharmaceutical company in Japan, has invested in its Avlar BioVentures Fund II LP. 

The Avlar BioVentures Fund II is aiming to close at the end of this year with a target size of £75m.  The firm confirmed that it is an English Limited Partnership with a fund life of 10 years and a minimum of 85 per cent of the fund will be invested in Europe. Avlar says that this is the first time that YVC, which usually invests directly in companies itself,  has invested in a venture capital fund.  Financial details of the investment were not disclosed.

Dr Masaki Doi, President and Chief Executive Officer of Yamanouchi Venture Capital, said:  “Our investment strategy is to diversify and minimise our risk, whilst gaining access to innovative companies in the biotechnology sector.  Avlar’s management track record in creating and investing in quality, growth biotech companies and its hands-on approach to investment management have led us to invest in Fund II.'

Currently Avlar's portfolio companies includes Proteom, which is deploying a knowledge based computational approach to drug discovery; TheraSci, a drug discovery company focussing on the central and peripheral nervous system; and  Cambridge Biotechnology, which is developing therapeutic products for the treatment of intractable pain and obesity.     

Investors in the Avlar's first fund included 3i, BTG, University of Cambridge, European Investment Fund, Abbey National Treasury Services and Vertex International Partners. The firm confirmed that other investors in the second fund included Lloyds TSB and Access Capital Partners.

YVC was established in November 2000 and is based in California. It is a subsidiary of Tokto-based Yamanouchi Pharmaceutical Company Ltd, Japan’s third largest pharmaceutical company.