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Jul 29, 2014

Lilly, Pfizer, J&J Help Accelerator Corp. Expand Into New York

  • Accelerator Corp., the biotechnology investment and management company that has nurtured biotech startups in Seattle for more than a decade, is expanding its activity to New York City through a new $51 million fund whose co-investors include three pharma giants.

    Eli Lilly, Pfizer Venture Investments, and Johnson & Johnson’s venture capital subsidiary Johnson & Johnson Development Corp. (JJDC) are among five new investors Accelerator has attracted to the first closing of its Accelerator IV fund, which has $51.1 million in capital commitments. Accelerator’s fourth fund will seek to invest in and nurture startups spinning out of New York’s numerous research institutions by offering them strategic venture capital, as well as entrepreneurial leadership and product development capabilities.

    Accelerator said it will work in New York with seven of the city’s top-tier institutions, including Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, Columbia University, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York University, The Rockefeller University, and Weill Cornell Medical College.

    “We believe that there is an unparalleled opportunity to support exciting early-stage life science research in both New York City and Seattle. Accelerator will provide a big boost to help foster innovation in both these locales,” John Lechleiter, Ph.D., Lilly’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

    Accelerator’s New York base will be at the Alexandria Center for Life Sciences, the lab-office campus built by Alexandria Real Estate Equities—whose strategic venture capital arm Alexandria Venture Investments is a longtime investor in Accelerator.

    Since its launch in 2003, through its first three rounds of committed capital, Accelerator has developed 12 early-stage biotechnology companies in Seattle—where it has expanded its partnerships beyond the Institute for Systems Biology, to include Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason, Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI), Pacific Northwest Diabetes Research Institute, Puget Sound Blood Center Research Institute, Seattle BioMed, Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Washington State University.

    “There is a funding gap for innovators looking to build new companies, as more and more venture investors are turning their attention to de-risked, later-stage developmental therapies instead of early research. We have had tremendous success in bridging this gap in Seattle, with more than half of our companies graduating to successful venture rounds and achieving development successes,” Thong Q. Le, chief executive officer of Accelerator, said in a statement. “We recognize a similar gap in New York City where funding is available for developed companies but in short supply for early-stage research, and we look forward to this strategic expansion with our new round of committed capital.”

    The three pharmas join two additional new strategic investors—venture capital firm Harris & Harris Group and The Partnership Fund for New York City, an evergreen fund capitalized by the Big Apple’s business and finance leaders. The new investors join Alexandria Venture Investments and two other return investors, WRF Capital, and ARCH Venture Partners.

    “With the opening of Accelerator at the Alexandria Center for Life Science in Manhattan’s East Side Medical Corridor, Alexandria will add a strong array of disruptive clinical-stage opportunities as well as life science platform companies to its all-star roster of client tenants on our world-class urban campus,” stated Joel Marcus, chairman and CEO of both Alexandria and Alexandria Venture Investments. “This is a critical moment for the Alexandria Center for Life Science and for New York City more broadly.”


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