BioPharma, Startups

Atlas Venture raises $250M for Opportunity Fund

The biotech venture capital firm said it plans to invest the money into existing portfolio companies. Several other VC firms have also announced new funds in the last several months.

A biotechnology venture capital firm is ringing in the new year with its latest fund, having raised a quarter of $1 billion.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Atlas Venture said Wednesday that it closed its first Opportunity Fund, or AVOF I, with an oversubscribed fund raise of $250 million. The firm plans to invest the money in companies already in its portfolio.

The total amount raised represents a 25 percent increase over the $200 million that Atlas set out to raise when it opened the fund a little more than a month ago, according to a Nov. 29 Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

Unum Therapeutics, Replimune, AVROBIO and Surface Oncology are all Atlas portfolio companies that went public in 2018, according to Atlas’s website. Other large drugmakers in the firm’s portfolio that have made initial public offerings in previous years include Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Momenta Pharmaceuticals, Exelixis and others. In September, Atlas co-led a $30 million Series A financing in Cambridge-based Akrevia Therapeutics with F-Prime Capital Partners.

“Atlas’s longstanding and new limited partners alike have demonstrated their conviction in the ability of our portfolio companies to advance innovative therapeutics for patients in need,” Atlas partner Kevin Bitterman said in a statement.

Several biotech-focused venture capital firms have raised new funds in the last few months. In October, Chicago-based ARCH Venture Partners said in an SEC filing that it would raise $600 million for its 10th fund, which followed its $408.4 million Fund IX, closed in November 2016. In the middle of last month, San Francisco-based Versant Ventures announced that it closed its seventh fund, amounting to $600 million, as well as $100 million that it will focus on investing in Canadian startups. And in November, Seattle-based Biomatics Capital – an investor in cancer blood testing firm Grail – raised $300 million a fund that it plans to invest in diagnostics, therapeutics, research and development and clinical care. Drugmakers like Pfizer and Taiho Pharmaceutical have also pumped money into their in-house venture capital arms.

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