Paris-based Sofinnova Partners placed a bet in Milan-based Genespire, a gene-therapy company developing best-in-class therapies for patients affected by gene disease. The European, life sciences-focused venture capital firm has placed three investments from its Telethon Fund, bringing the total financing of Italian startups by Sofinnova Partners to €25 million in the past six months. The Sofinnova Telethon Fund is the largest fund in Italy dedicated to biotechnologies, making early-stage investments in Italian ventures targeting cures for rare genetic diseases. Italy’s Telethon Foundation is a leading Italian charity organization investing in the research of rare genetic diseases.
Targeting the Next Generation of Gene Therapy & Biotech
Launched by Professor Luigi Naldini, a gene therapy pioneer, (San Raffaele Hospital) this investment by Sofinnova Telethon Fund follows on the heels of its leading-edge investments in Epsilen Bio, which is developing a technology to turn off genes linked to specific pathologies without irreversibly modifying the DNA (a major potential safety advantage), and PinCell, a pre-clinical state biotech company focused on the development of new therapies for rare dermatological diseases.
The Sofinnova Telethon Fund
Receiving €108 million in commitments, the Sofinnova Partners Telethon Fund exceeded its targets and established the largest fund to emerge from ITATech, a joint venture between the European Investment Fund (EIF) and Italy’s Cassa Deposit e Prestiti (CdP). Highlighting the upbeat energy, Graziano Seghezzi, Managing Partner of Sofinnova Partners noted, “We have gained unprecedented levels of support from Italian investors for our Italian biotech fund.” The Managing Partner noted that some of Italy’s leading institutional (e.g. pension funds, banks, etc.), corporate and private investors actually doubled the level of support made by ITATech.
Fund’s Capital Channeled to Find Cures for Rare Disease
With capital flowing into new investments, Francesca Pasinelli, CEO of The Telethon Foundation, noted the biggest winners of the partnership will be the patients who suffer form rare and genetic diseases. Ms. Pasinelli commented, “This Fund has always been about them and nationally, is dedicated to elevating Italian science, supported by Italian investors and focused on Italy’s best entrepreneurs and companies.” Also noting the importance of the collaboration with Italy’s San Raffaele Hospital.
Who leads the Sofinnova Telethon Fund team?
Lucia Faccio and Paola Pozz, both partners at Sofinnova Partners and based in the Milan office. With over 20 years’ experience, Ms. Faccio was the Director of Research and Business Development of The Telethon Foundation and also served as Director of the Technology Transfer Office at the San Raffaele Hospital. Ms. Pozzi actually succeeded Ms. Faccio at the San Raffaele Hospital and has spent 16 years’ experience working in intellectual property formation and transfer.
The office also houses Italy’s first biotech accelerator
BiovelocITA, Italy’s first biotechnology accelerator, is situated in the Sofinnova Partners’ Milan office. It was launched by Sofinnova Partners in collaboration with Silvano Spinelli and Gabriella Camboni (two serial entrepreneurs with close ties to Sofinnova Partners).
Sofinnova Partners Profile
With over €2 2billion under management, Sofinnova Partners is a leading European venture capital firm specialized in Life Sciences. Based in Paris, France, with offices in London and Milan, the firm brings together a team of 40 professionals from all over Europe, the U.S. and Asia. The firm focuses on paradigm-shifting technologies alongside visionary entrepreneurs. Sofinnova Partners invests across the Life Sciences value chain as a lead or cornerstone investor, from very early-stage opportunities to late-stage/public companies. It has backed nearly 500 companies over more than 48 years, creating market leaders around the globe.
Call to Action: TrialSite Network (the audience of TrialSite News worldwide) includes hundreds of biotech professionals in Italy. The Sofinnova Telethon Fund continues to invest exclusively in Italy—seeking to create and develop some of the best companies in the field of rare and genetic diseases.