The European Investment Fund will provide half the capital for the $59m i&i Biotech Fund I, which will operate out of the Czech Republic.

Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland and Slovakia are among the central European countries that will benefit from the €50m ($59m) i&I Biotech Fund I, set up to invest in biomedical spinouts.

The European Investment Fund (EIF), part of the EU-owned European Investment Bank, will provide €25m towards the fund’s target size.

The i&I Biotech Fund I will operate out of the Czech Republic, working in close collaboration with the Czech Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry (ICOB) at Czech Academy of Sciences, and will invest in pre-seed, seed and series A rounds.

The fund will the first of its kind in central Europe and will aim to help central European universities to catch up with their peers in western Europe and the US.

The EIF’s commitment comes from its InnovFin initiative, part of Horizon 2020, and the European Guarantee Fund, a €25bn programme to accelerate the EU’s economic recovery following the pandemic.

Zdeněk Hostomský, director of ICOB, said: “Czech science is proud of outstanding fundamental research in a number of fields, but it cannot be done without an active transfer of results into practice.

“We know it pays off thanks to the extraordinary example of Antonín Holý and Gilead Sciences, whose drugs changed the treatment of Aids throughout the world, saved millions of patients, and not only turned a small business into one of the biggest pharma companies in the world, but also transformed our institute into a thriving research centre.

“If we want to see more stories like that, we must constantly develop tools to promote tech transfer and facilitate the founding of new companies capable of seeing the development of groundbreaking discoveries and technologies through to completion and making headway in competitive international markets.

“That is something our institute has been working on for a long time, and by establishing this fund we want to motivate others to do the same.”

Thierry Heles

Thierry Heles is the editor of Global University Venturing, host of the Beyond the Breakthrough interview podcast and responsible for the monthly GUV Gazette (sign up here for free).