The rest of the 100 (in alphabetical order by company): Jill Carroll, SR One
“During the 2008 recession, traditional VCs stopped investing and CVCs were really stepped up; and that’s what they need to keep doing now – they need to keep investing, because having the amount of money that flows into biotechnology from pharmaceutical companies is absolutely critical.”
Such are the words of Jill Carroll, investment principal at SR One. And with six years of history at the firm, she is surely making sure the effort is being kept up.
Having joined SR One as senior associate in 2011, Carroll was made principal in 2014, and has led a number of deals since then.
One of them was Applied Genetic Technologies Corporations (AGTC), which specialise in the development of gene therapies with a focus on orphan ophthalmologic conditions. Having received a first contribution from SR One in 2012, the company went public in 2014, raising $50m through its initial public offering .
In 2016, Carroll led SR One’s investment in a $50m series B round for microbiome therapeutics group Second Genome. She is also managing portfolio companies Arcellx Therapeutics, which develops multi-functional immune cell therapies using proprietary binding domains, and Nkarta Therapeutics, a startup harnessing the power of natural killer cells to develop cellular immunotherapies.
Celebrating its 30th year of existence in 2015, SR One had invested $1bn in more than 170 companies as of then, and had a portfolio of 40 private and public companies.
Last year, the firm’s investment pace did not seem to slow down either, with at least eight new investments as of November. Those included a $47.6m A round for Palleon Pharmaceuticals alongside Vertex Ventures, Takeda, Pfizer and AbbVie Biotech Ventures; a $38.6m C round for Effector Therapeutics in July; a $52m B round for Bicylce Therapeutics in June; and two more rounds in May.
Carroll said: “A lot of the deals we have been doing lately have been in a company-building format, which means that we invest a lot of time, effort and money in developing the group.”
Upon joining SR One in 2011, the principal had a solid background in biotech partnering and commercial development. A scientist at heart, Carroll first completed a BS in chemistry at Duke University, followed by a MS in biochemistry at Johns Hopkins, after which she rapidly integrated the Mercer group as a healthcare-specialised management consultant. Later on, she moved to Clearview Projects, where she worked as director of market analysis for three years.
As is often the case with consulting roles though, Carroll eventually got weary of not having a “long-term ownership or accountability on what you are doing”. The next step for her was then to take up corporate development role at Berkeley-based clinical-stage immunotherapy company Dynavax Technologies, where she served for nearly seven years as senior director of corporate development and strategic planning.
Jens Eckstein, president at SR One, said: “Jill has a unique combination of business development and deep scientific understanding. She is particularly interested in expanding SR One’s visibility into novel approaches and has either led or co-led several investments in breakthrough cell therapies.
“She is always on the lookout for opportunities to put her personal network to use, and is above all a great person to work with, who has integrity and empathy.”
Reflecting on her experience at SR One, Carroll said that as an investor, one the toughest decisions to make on a regular basis is “picking the winners”.
She said: “We screen around 500 new deals a year that we constantly monitor, so one of the most difficult steps for us is to decide where to place our bets.
“The fact that we are an early-stage investor adds a layer of difficulty, as there’s always a tremendous amount of technical risk to manage around early-stage companies.”
In the future, the principal said she would stay committed to SR One as a firm, as she is particularly appreciative of the parent company’s [GlaxoSmithKline] strong support for its venture arm, and would not want to miss the chance to see her portfolio companies – “her babies” – develop in times to come.
When she is not busy with her SR One’s “babies” though, Carroll still manages to spend time with her 14-year-old daughter and 12-year-son, with whom she indulges into various outdoor activity, such as hiking, kayaking or paddle boarding.