The reason is rapidly rising antibiotic-resistant infections – also called antimicrobial resistance (AMR), as noted in the latest report by the Wellcome Trust in the UK.

But after the success of venture-backed and academic researchers to develop vaccines to tackle covid-19, at least 20 drugs companies are supporting the AMR Action Fund and, less than a year after launch, hired CEO Henry Skinner, a former partner of Novartis’ corporate venturing unit.

The $1bn venture capital approach is looking to bring two to four new antibiotics to patients by the end of the decade and Skinner is quickly building up his team with Sergei Petukhov joining most recently as managing director.

The Action Fund complements one of its backers, Denmark-based Novo Holdings’ Repair Impact Fund, whose lead partner, Aleks Engel, has looked at more than 200 investment proposals and made nine investments from its $165m fund tackling AMR, including most recently MinervaMutabilis, IBT, Curza and Spero.

One of the largest rounds was MicuRx’s $107m series E round to support work on antimicrobial therapeutics to treat multidrug-resistant infections and hoping to break a paradox: despite the huge societal costs of AMR, there has been little viable market for new antibiotics. New antibiotics are used sparingly to preserve effectiveness, so in recent years a number of antibiotic-focused biotechs have declared bankruptcy or exited this space due to the lack of commercial sustainability.

The funds and immediate experience for people over the past year is changing the landscape.

The Global Healthcare Council chaired by Merck and Echo Health Ventures will be meeting next week as part of the GCV Digital Forum with an open pitch session through the GCV Connect powered by Proseeder platform.

James Mawson

James Mawson is founder and chief executive of Global Venturing.