6:10 PM
 | 
Sep 15, 2017
 |  BioCentury  |  Finance

Local leverage

How Lilly Asia Ventures came to invest in U.S. companies

What began as a fund designed to provide Eli Lilly and Co. access to innovation in China has evolved into an independent VC with a focus on innovative Chinese healthcare companies and U.S. biotechs looking to enter the China market.

Eli Lilly was the sole LP in two initial funds of undisclosed size that closed in 2008 and 2011. In 2015 Lilly Asia Ventures added external LPs to close the firm’s third fund at $300 million. With its fourth fund of $450 million, which closed in February, Lilly Asia Ventures now has about $1 billion under management.

Since its launch, Lilly Asia Ventures has for the most part maintained a consistent investment strategy, investing primarily in Chinese companies, with about 70% allocated to therapeutics and the remainder to other life science sectors, including diagnostics and medtech.

Lilly SVP of Corporate Business Development Darren Carroll co-founded Lilly Asia Ventures in 2008 to invest broadly in Asia, but the focus quickly narrowed to China.

“We saw an explosion of opportunities in China that was so great it kept us busy for most of the next six or seven years,” he told BioCentury.

Cancer company Betta Pharmaceuticals Co. Ltd. and antibody play Innovent Biologics Inc. are two examples.

“What’s tough for companies isn’t finding money from China. It’s finding money plus the value add that helps them bridge to China.”

Judith Li, Lilly Asia Ventures

Lilly Asia Ventures was the sole investor in Betta’s series A round in...

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