Life science firms welcome £200m investment fund

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LIFE science firms yesterday heralded the launch of a £200 million investment fund as a “significant boost” for the industry.

The Wellcome Trust, the world’s largest grant-giving charity and one of the biggest supporters of medical research in the UK, said that its “Project Sigma” would take a long-term view with its investments in small businesses.

The trust has recruited Martin Murphy, previously a partner at venture capital firm MVM Life Science Partners, as Sigma’s chief executive and Nigel Keen, chairman of Oxford Instruments and Deltex Medical, to chair Sigma’s board.

Trust director Sir Mark Walport said: “The Wellcome Trust is known as an investor that takes a long-term view. Sigma will extend this successful approach to direct investments in emerging healthcare technologies, to give small and medium-sized companies the support they require to fulfil their potential.”

Glyn Edwards, interim chief executive at the BioIndustry Association trade body, welcomed the introduction of the fund.

He said: “The Wellcome Trust’s decision to launch a fund focussed on long-term investment in biotechnology start-ups should provide a significant boost to companies developing new medicines.

“Given the time required to bring innovative healthcare developments to market, it is especially pleasing to see that the fund will take a long-term view.”