22 May 2013

Seed capital fund: an incentive to treat rare diseases

Illustration for article: Seed capital fund: an incentive to treat rare diseases
The AFM-Telethon and FNA, a fund managed by CDC Entreprises, a unit of the Public investment bank, have launched the first seed capital fund dedicated to innovative biotherapies and rare diseases.

With the Caisse des Dépôts Enterprises (a management company in charge of promoting equity capital financing of growing French SMEs in the technological sector or in traditional industry which create value and jobs) and the Fonds National d’Amorçage, FNA (a fund set up by the French government to provide capital to companies developing innovative technologies that generate competitive advantages, jobs and economic activity), the AFM-Telethon is creating a fund dedicated to innovative biotherapies and rare diseases.

A 50 million euro fund

“The launch of this seed fund represents a milestone for rare diseases. We are currently at the crossroads between translational research and industrialisation, for which it is urgent to consider not only for rare diseases but also for common diseases soon,” said Laurence Tiennot-Herment, President of the AFM-Telethon.

The objective of this fund, involving 20 million euros from the FNA and 30 million euros from the AFM-Telethon, i.e. a total of 50 million euros, is to support at a very early stage, start-ups that develop innovative therapies for rare diseases.

A unique project in Europe

Pascal Werner, Financial, Investment and Start-up at the General Commission for Investment, explained that it is an avant-garde project: “Before, public authority was necessary to launch such a project. But in the case of research on rare diseases, it is the opposite: the private funds of the AFM-Telethon have provided the impetus for innovation.” Nicolas Dufourcq, CEO of bpifrance, finished by adding “this is a unique initiative in Europe!”

The seed capital fund therefore aims to promote therapeutic projects to provide patients with rare diseases, access to innovative treatments. In addition, its purpose is to enable the development of treatments for common diseases from these innovations originally developed for rare diseases.

Therapies at a fair and controlled price

Laurence Tiennot-Herment added: “Our goal is the development of innovative therapies for rare diseases. But these therapies should be available to patients, hence the clause "Fair and controlled price” so that these start-ups are aware of this price issue and that the treatment is tolerable by the community.”

“We hope to announce the first planned investment at the beginning of summer” concluded Laurent Arthaud, Deputy Director of CDC Entreprises, Head of Life Sciences.

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