Germany-based pharmaceutical company Merck KGaA has more than doubled the size of its corporate venturing unit to €100m ($130m). In March 2009, Merck founded its corporate venturing unit – now branded as MS Ventures was – with €40m to invest in early-stage biotechnology companies in oncology, neurodegenerative diseases, fertility, endocrinology and cardiometabolic care. This initial fund has invested in deals, including Auxogyn, Vaximm and EpiTherapeutics. In addition to the strategic venture fund, MS Ventures also manages the €10m MS Israel Bioincubator Fund and €30m Entrepreneur Partnership Program established to fund spin-offs from the parent company, such as Asceneuron. Stefan Oschmann, Merck executive board member and chief executive of its Merck Serono (MS) biotech division, said: “Biotech companies and their venture capital investors are a critical source of ideas and innovation for our industry. “Our continued commitment to MS Ventures underlines our dedication to work closely with the innovation ecosystem of venture capital, entrepreneurs, biotech companies and universities to create the next generation of technologies and drugs that have the potential to improve patient outcomes.” Roel Bulthuis (pictured), head of MS Ventures, added: “Leveraging respective capabilities of companies that receive seed funding through MS Ventures and of our internal organization, enables us to facilitate development of innovative drugs with a greater level of clinical and commercial differentiation.”

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