Written By: Ben Adams, Senior Editor, FierceBiotech
Life science venture capital firm Rapha Capital Management has launched its first managed venture capital fund with a target raise of $100M and “solely focused” on investment in early-stage life science companies.
The money, which is being raised via the so-called Rapha Capital BioVentures Fund I, will focus on securing the investment lead, typically at series A or just before, in target companies and will be managed by Kevin Slawin, M.D., the founder and managing partner of the firm. Slawin will take an “active role” on the boards and provide counsel to the management of the target investment companies.
Speaking to Fierce Biotech, Slawin said that while this fund was not “focused on any specific disease targets or platforms, including COVID,” he did hint that: “Through my experience founding and managing Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, I have a particular expertise in immunotherapy and CAR T cell therapy. In the past, I was an early series A investor in Poseida Therapeutics, for example, which is now a public company with unique gene engineering technologies and products in cellular immunotherapy and gene therapy.”
Rapha Capital Management’s portfolio companies currently focus on a wide-range of targets, including immunotherapies, medical device, ocular diseases, genome editing, cell and gene therapy and bioprinting.
The fund is not seeking out later-stage assets or technologies, but specifically wants very early science. “I believe that one can extract the greatest value from each investment dollar by successfully identifying those few early-stage companies that will go on to profoundly improve people’s lives,” Slawin said.
“By trusting the combination of experience from the front lines of medicine and intuition in finding great technologies and great companies early in the process, we can play a role in developing these new companies to help them achieve success and build value.”
Like so many others, Slawin was cautious about how COVID could hit its ability to raise cash. “I thought the pandemic would make raising cash more difficult,” he said, “but in the end, we had more success than ever this past year. We completed a $35 million Series A for our portfolio company AsclepiX Therapeutics, led by PXV Xontogeny Fund in June 2020, when I was serving as Interim CEO of AsclepiX.
“During the year, we completed a $5.3M Series A raise for another great portfolio company, FIZE Medical, Inc., based in Modi’in, Israel. In addition, we’ve completed Convertible Note financings for Rapha Capital portfolio companies, Ponce Therapeutics, in the anti-aging space, as well as Demeetra Agbio, during this pandemic as well. In the pre-launch period for the new RCBV Fund, we’ve already received significant capital commitments from our legacy Rapha Capital investors.”