Ascenion and Goethe University Frankfurt are among the initiators of Carma Fund I, which will help start up and fund early life science projects.

Goethe University Frankfurt’s tech transfer arm Innovectis has joined forces with Ascenion, a Germany-based technology transfer company, to launch Carma Fund I with an initial €47m ($50m) to commercialise early-stage life science projects.

The European Investment Fund has also invested in the fund, as have drug discovery company Evotec and undisclosed others. The fund has a target size of $63.3m.

Carma will seek out promising startups or high potential academic projects. Spinouts focusing on new therapeutic and diagnostic approaches, platform technologies, medical devices and digital health are all potential avenues that Carma is open to funding.  

The fund will focus on spinouts associated with Ascenion and Innovectis, but will be open to “outstanding innovations” emerging out of research institutions throughout Europe.

Ascenion, a subsidiary of LifeScience Foundation for the Promotion of Science and Research, has partnered 30 research organisations, universities and university hospitals in Europe, such as Hannover Medical School and Medical University of Innsbruck. Its chief executive Christian Stein commented on Carma: “This fund truly is a game-changer for Ascenion. It enables us to provide fast, early-stage financing for top projects in a flexible fashion.

“The timeframe of 15-plus years, which particularly suits the development horizon of therapeutic and diagnostic projects, allows the fund to participate in future revenues to support the charitable aims of the Life Science Foundation.” 

Cardior Pharmaceuticals is an acting example of Ascenion’s successful portfolio, focusing on therapeutics for cardiac diseases. The company picked up $76m in a series B round less than a year ago. At the time, Stein noted: “Patients and physicians have been waiting for a breakthrough in the field of cardiovascular diseases for over 10 years. Cardior opens up a promising opportunity to deliver this breakthrough.” 

Martin Raditsch, chief executive of Innovectis, and Christian Leikert, chief executive of Future Capital AG Hessen Life Sciences Chemie, will act as general partners overseeing Carma Fund I through venture capital firm Carma Fund Management.

As the world still reels from the covid-19 pandemic and humans continue to face thousands of other diseases, investment into life science spinouts remains crucial even as economic challenges appear in public markets. Other recent funds in this sector include V-Bio Ventures’ Fund 2, which exceeded its target and closed at $120m less than three months ago.

Among V-Bio Ventures’ successful companies is Belgium-based radiopharmaceutical developer Precirix. Having been spun out of Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Precirix closed an $88m series B round in March 2022. GUV previously spoke with V-Bio Ventures managing partner Christina Takke about the firm’s ambitions on the Talking Tech Transfer podcast.

Another venture capital firm, UVC Partners, meanwhile further underlined German investors’ appetite for university-linked innovation when it closed its latest fund at $289m last November.

Roshini Bains

Roshini Bains is the junior news reporter for Global Corporate Venturing and Global University Venturing.