Pre-seed investments in Israel for Merck

(credits: Merck)

ExploreBio is the new pre-seed-investment vehicle targeted at funding biotech early-stage companies and providing also management services for proof-of-concept-experiments in biotechnology. Incubated companies will also be given the opportunity to work at Merck’s BioIncubator facilities in Yavne, Israel, operative since 2011. Interested parties should submit their investment proposal here.

Four partners to collaborate

The € 20 million-value initiative is a partnership between the strategic corporate venture capital arm of Merck and other three investors. Arkin Holdings is dedicated to empowering companies that create breakthrough pharma, biotech and medical device technologies. Pontifax is a venture capital firm founded in 2004 and focusing on groundbreaking innovations in life sciences, with over $350 million under management and a portfolio of about 50 companies working to address substantial unmet needs.
Founded in 2000, WuXi AppTec is a Chinese global pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, and medical device open-access capability and technology platform with global operations providing a broad and integrated portfolio of services throughout the drug R&D process.
ExploreBio aims to invest € 1 million to € 1.5 million per company across up to four investments per year over a period of five years. The early-stage companies would benefit from quick access to funding and easy access to follow-up capital.

According to Merck, a second advantage for the four partners is being able to leverage the consortium’s resources and their strong relationships to work with the investments more closely and effectively. The four founding companies have already collaborated to support different companies, such as Metabomed (targeted cancer therapy) and Artsavit (using apoptosis-induction to treat cancer).

Two new CRISPR’s patents for Merck

Merck also announced that the Israel Patent Office and the Korean Intellectual Property Office have each issued notices granting Merck’s patent applications for the company’s CRISPR technology used in a genomic-integration method for eukaryotic cells. These decisions mark the fifth and sixth patent allowances for Merck’s unique CRISPR technology following Singapore, Australia, the European Union, and Canada.