- Investors including Merck & Co., Novartis and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have poured $300 million into a new fund launched by investment firm Adjuvant Capital to focus on public health challenges that are "historically overlooked."
- In a statement, Adjuvant's managing partner, Glenn Rockman, highlighted diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis that can ravage poorer countries around the world, but get little attention from Wall Street. The fund will also be looking at viruses that pose threats to developing nations and wealthy countries alike, he said.
- Any investment will require commitments that products will be broadly available to people in low- and middle-income countries, Adjuvant said.
Backers of the fund stressed the importance of greater access to medical advances around the world while pointing out that this kind of investment can also make money.
"There is a misconception that impact investing requires financial return concessions," said Thomas McPartland, a board member of Elma investments Ltd. and CEO of Elma Philanthropies Services, in a statement Thursday. "We have long believed the opposite can be true."
Adjuvant already has 14 companies in its portfolio, with investments ranging from California's ChromaCode, which is working to increase the throughput of molecular diagnostic equipment, to Frontier Nutrition, which aims to fight maternal and childhood malnutrition in Bangladesh.
Vaccine makers in Denmark and China are included, as well as a Nigerian company called 54gene that uses African genetic data to guide research on new medicines and vaccines. Adjuvant has also invested in New York-based Codagenix, which is testing a coronavirus vaccine with the Serum Institute of India, and Themis, bought by Merck last year in part for a coronavirus vaccine that has now been shelved.
Adjuvant said many of the investors in the fund are contributing scientific and emerging markets expertise in addition to cash.
Two of the investors – Novartis and the Gates Foundation – just yesterday announced an effort to develop an affordable and accessible sickle cell disease treatment. The vast majority of sickle cell cases are in sub-Saharan Africa.