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12:00 AM
 | 
Aug 03, 2015
 |  BioCentury  |  Finance

From Phase4 to Mereo

How risk-sharing newco Mereo evolved from Phase4, debuted with Novartis programs

The leadership team behind Phase4 Ventures is branching out from its traditional venture roots to launch newco Mereo BioPharma Group Ltd., which aims to provide an alternative for pharmas looking to advance mid-stage pipelines in the face of resource constraints.

Mereo debuted last week with $119 million (£76.5 million) to develop an initial slate of three programs acquired from Novartis AG, which has an equity stake in the newco.

Mereo's co-founders all come from Phase4, which was the life sciences arm of Nomura before it spun out in 2010. At the time, Managing Partner Denise Scots-Knight said Phase4 was aiming to raise its first independent fund. She said the firm planned to focus on European venture investments but would also continue to do spinouts from pharma.

While at Nomura, the team was a lead investor for three spinouts: gastrointestinal and autoimmune play Albireo AB from AstraZeneca plc; infectious disease company Nabriva Therapeutics AG from Novartis' Sandoz unit; and drug delivery play Zosano Pharma Corp. from Johnson & Johnson.

"As we thought about the spinouts that we've done and the pressures that are going on within pharma, we saw this gap....

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