26 – 100 in alphabetical order: Anja König, Novartis Venture Fund

In June 2017, Anja König was promoted to global head of Novartis Venture Fund (NVF), the corporate venturing unit of Switzerland-based pharmaceutical company Novartis, following the retirement of Reinhard Ambros.

Ambros had spent the 12 years as global head of NVF and was part of 2017’s GCV Powerlist. König had, as managing director of NVF, been named as part of Global Corporate Venturing’s Rising Stars list for 2017 before stepping into the top role.

This year, the unit has participated in a SFr35m ($35.1m) series A round for Anaveon, a Switzerland-based immunooncology spinout of University of Zurich, in February.

König, who is a board member at the UZH Life Science Fund, said at the time: “Such a strong series A financing, by an international syndicate, of a company spun out of University of Zurich was for me personally a great validation of the principles behind the UZH spinout fund to support Swiss innovation.”

A month earlier, the unit also supplied funds in a $65m series B round for Ribon Therapeutics, a US-based biotechnology company developing enzyme families activated under cellular stress conditions.

König commented: “Ribon has developed a novel platform with the flexibility and rigour to investigate and exploit new targets providing the opportunity to build a diverse and attractive pipeline of first-in-class therapeutics.”

Last year, the unit took part in a $70m series C round for US-based biotechnology company focused on cancer therapies Galera Therapeutics, a £65m ($83m) series B round for UK-based cancer-focused biotechnology developer Artios Pharma, a $25.1m series A round for US-based genetic medicine developer Akouos, a $20m series B round for US-based antibiotics developer and Harvard University spinout Macrolide Pharmaceuticals, among others.

König’s earlier investments included biotech Bicycle Therapeutics, which raised $32m in a 2014 round that included corporate venturing peer SR One; UK-based anti-fungal drug developer F2G, which received $60m in June 2016; and Forendo Pharma, which secured $12.8m in 2014.

König has also overseen several successful exits for Novartis, including Switzerland-based biopharmaceutical company Covagen and UK-based Alzheimer’s disease drug developer Heptares via mergers and acquisitions, while Austria-based biopharmaceutical company Nabriva and South Korea-based biotech company Qurient were via initial public offerings.

But outside of maintaining its strong investments and exit pipeline, König’s focus has been on the team and hired Michal Silverberg in November 2017, who has been featured on GCV’s Rising Stars roster from 2018 to 2019.

König has studied physics throughout her academic career – she holds a bachelor’s degree from University of Oxford, a master’s degree from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and a PhD from Cornell University.

Before joining NVF in 2006, König was a US-based associate partner at management consultancy firm McKinsey for six years from 2000, where she worked with healthcare, pharmaceutical and biotech firms on both sides of the Atlantic.