Merck, Arkin Holdings, Pontifax, and WuXi AppTec partner to start ExploreBio, a € 20 million pre-seed investment vehicle. ExploreBio is targeted at early-stage companies in the biotechnology landscape in Israel. The initiative aims to invest € 1 million to € 1.5 million per company across up to four investments per year over a period of five years. The early-stage companies would benefit from quick access to funding and easy access to follow-up capital, management services for proof-of-concept experiments, the opportunity to work at Merck’s BioIncubator facilities in Yavne, Israel.
The four investors have worked together on investments in different companies in the past, such as Metabomed (targeted cancer therapy) and Artsavit (using apoptosis-induction to treat cancer). With ExploreBio, they aim to engage with start-up companies in which it would otherwise be too early to invest.
ExploreBio complements Merck’s PMatX activity starteed last year and its BioIncubator started in 2011: PMatX addresses the topic of next-generation electronics and is a joint endeavor with Flex, San Jose, CA, USA, backed by additional industry partners including HP, Palo Alto, CA, USA, and supported by the Technology Innovation Lab program of the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA). The overall investment volume of the program involving all parties is around € 20 million and the initial commitment is for three years. Merck’s site in Yavne houses the company’s Healthcare and Life Science incubator called BioIncubator. This undertaking has committed to invest up to € 10 million until 2018 in biomedically focused start-up companies in Israel.
- Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany
- Arkin Holdings, Herzeliya, Israel
- Pontifax, Herzeliya, Israel
- WuXi AppTec, Shanghai, China