Aegon-backed dementia fund raises record GBP 250 million
June 26, 2018, 8:06 CEST
The Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF), the world’s largest venture fund devoted to a single disease area, has announced the completion of a record fundraising, with Aegon among its backers.
A large group of strategic investors has committed a total of GBP 250 million (USD 350 million at the time of completion) to DDF, the fund announced on June 25, 2018. The total raised far exceeded its initial target of USD 200 million, making it the first and largest venture fund devoted entirely on discovering and developing novel therapies for dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.
The largest commitment (USD 60 million) to DDF came from the American Association of Retired People (AARP), a nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. AARP unveiled the commitment as it celebrated its 60th year of advocacy on behalf of people age 50-plus and their families.
Aegon's role Aegon made a significant commitment, with UnitedHealth Group, Quest Diagnostics, British Patient Capital and several others also backing the fund. Overall, the DDF has a broad and influential investor base, which includes Microsoft founder Bill Gates, seven leading pharmaceuticals, Woodford Patient Capital Trust (WPCT), the NFL Players Association, the UK's Department of Health and Social Care, and Alzheimer's Research UK (ARUK).
Commenting on the fundraising total, Edgar Koning, Chief Investment Officer at Aegon Nederland said: "We're delighted that Aegon's substantial investment has contributed to this record fundraising for such a worthy and innovative investment vehicle. Wealth and Health - which brings together financial security and healthy aging - are key focus points for Aegon, and we wish DDF every success in its mission to support the development of new medicines for dementia, while generating attractive returns for investors."
How the fund works DDF makes early stage venture capital investments to develop novel disease-modifying therapeutics for all forms of dementia. The fund is managed by SV Health and was formed through the collaboration of leading pharmaceutical companies (Biogen, Eli Lilly and Company, GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Otsuka (Astex), Pfizer and Takeda), the UK Department of Health, and the charity Alzheimer's Research UK (ARUK).
Since its launch in October 2015, DDF has built an initial portfolio of 16 investments in drug discovery companies and projects, predominantly in the UK and US in areas including microglial biology and inflammation, mitochondrial dynamics, trafficking and membrane biology and synaptic physiology and function.