Industry veterans launch $310M VC fund for biotech startups


Industry veterans launch $310M VC fund for biotech startups

Published: Feb 07, 2024

By Tristan Manalac


Led by three biotech veterans, New York City-based venture capital firm Scion Life Sciences launched on Wednesday with an oversubscribed $310 million fund to form companies working on potentially transformational and curative therapies.

According to the announcement, the firm’s mission is to create and build companies developing innovative treatments that could “cure or transform the clinical management” of life-threatening diseases. Scion Life Sciences, an affiliate of Petrichor, intends to “support its most promising portfolio companies through to maturity as late- or commercial-stage biopharmaceutical enterprises.”

The firm will make small investments—as low as “a few thousand dollars” for early-stage efforts—but can also provide $60 million or more in funding throughout the life of its portfolio companies, supporting them from pre-seed through to a public offering.

Scion is helmed by three industry veterans: Samuel Hall, who was previously a partner at Apple Tree Partners, where he contributed to several biotechs, including Stoke Therapeutics, Marengo Therapeutics and the Novartis-bought Chinook Therapeutics.

Aaron Kantoff is also managing partner at Scion. Previously, he was a venture partner at Medicxi and before that he served as co-founder and board member of Rayzebio, which in December 2023 was acquired by Bristol Myers Squibb for $3.6 billion.

Joining Hall and Kantoff is Tadd Wessel, a managing partner at private healthcare investment firm Petrichor. Wessel was previously a partner at OrbiMed Advisors and was vice president of Fortress Investment Group.

The trio’s depth of experience is contained in the three pillars of its asset selection strategy, which they contend is designed to minimize risk while maximizing the chances of producing transformational medicines.

First, Scion will focus on mature modalities and technologies that area likely to yield drugs “today or in the near term.” Second, the firm will invest its resources in therapeutic areas and disease targets with well-understood underlying mechanisms, allowing for effective interventions. Finally, Scion says it will be pragmatic by choosing to focus on conditions that can be addressed by independent biotech companies.

So far, Scion has established four companies. The firm said that details will be “disclosed subsequently” as the entities mature.

Scion has also formed an in-house team of scientific, medical and technology experts to guide the founding and building of its portfolio companies, while also providing internal R&D capabilities. The team will help the venture firm ensure that it will only support programs with “exceptional potential” to mature into full-scale companies.

“We build companies with the primary objective of creating important new medicines, not exits,” Kantoff said in a statement, adding that Scion’s approach is designed to “yield real medicines that change the lives of patients and caregivers.”

Source: BioSpace