- Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is diving deeper into biotech financing, announcing Thursday the launch of Binney Street Capital, its first-ever venture fund.
- Binney will support new research and technologies as part of the institute’s larger mission to help treat incurable cancers. The fund plans to invest in eight to 10 companies over the next three years, providing between $250,000 and $2 million per investment, according to Luba Greenwood, a veteran life sciences investor who will serve as Binney’s managing partner.
- Specifically, the money will go to startups that were either created using Dana-Farber’s intellectual property, or co-founded by one of its investigators. The institute says Binney will primarily focus on companies developing new drugs, but could also invest in those working on health services, digital health and novel diagnostics.
As one of the world’s preeminent oncology centers, Dana-Farber’s work has helped build many cancer-focused biotechs. The institute claims its research and intellectual property has fueled more than 50 startups, with at least 11 debuting in the last few years.
Recently, Dana-Farber has taken a more proactive role in company creation. In early 2020, it unveiled a collaboration with MPM Capital, a healthcare investment firm, that raised $100 million to put into early-stage biotechs developing therapeutic technologies for cancer.
The partners also raised more than $26 million through another fund, the Dana-Farber Innovations Research Fund, which aims to support early-stage oncology research at the institute.
Dana-Farber isn’t alone in such pursuits. In October, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center announced it had teamed up with The Focus Fund to advance promising cancer therapies through the early stages of clinical testing. The partners established a fund that received more than $50 million in commitments from an investor pool which included the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, Rice University Endowment and LSU Health Shreveport Foundation.
Dana-Farber is now looking to seed more young companies with its Binney fund.
“With this new Fund, Dana-Farber can invest in start-up companies and leverage our rights to participate in subsequent financing rounds,” said Lesley Solomon, Dana-Farber’s chief innovation officer, in a Jan. 15 statement. “In addition, the Fund will provide investment returns to support ongoing discovery at the Institute.”
Binney’s formation comes at a time when some health systems are setting up their own affiliated venture capital firms. While health systems claim these firms help find and develop new treatments or products, others have expressed concern that they can present conflicts of interest concerns for non-profit organizations.