Sector News

Novartis makes concerted push into Israeli biotech startup scene

February 19, 2015
Life sciences
Over the past year, Novartis has struck a pair of deals in Israel, snagging an option to buy Gamida Cell and a stake in BioLineRx. The geographic proximity of the two targets is no coincidence–Novartis is in the middle of a concerted push into the Israeli biotech startup scene.
 
In August, the Swiss Big Pharma invested $35 million (€31 million) in Gamida Cell for a 35% stake and an option to acquire the company and its stem cell therapies for a further $165 million plus milestones. Four months later, Novartis returned to Israel with $10 million to take a stake in BioLineRx. The deals mark the start of an attempt to correct a historic imbalance in the geographic focus of Novartis’ business development activities. 
 
“When we examined our investment portfolio, it became clear that our exposure to Israel is very limited, despite the fact that there’s a great deal of talent and innovation,” Novartis Pharma Chief David Epstein told Globes. Hooking up with BioLineRx is Novartis’ attempt to catch up. “[BioLineRx] is meant to take the money, identify the Israeli startups and then acquire the rights to develop their technologies. We will be able to buy these technologies from them, if they advance well,” he said.
 
The arrangement gives Novartis a direct line to the Israeli R&D ecosystem, which has spawned a large number of biotechs and the odd controversy. BioLineRx can potentially help Novartis sift through the array of targets to increase the odds of finding the next drug to join Copaxone on the list of Israeli success stories, while avoiding problems akin to those that dogged Hyperion Therapeutics ($HPTX) acquisition of Yavne-based Andromeda Biotech.
 
By Nick Paul Taylor
 

Related News

September 22, 2020

GSK’s Zejula and AZ’s Lynparza leap toward broader EU approval

Life sciences

GlaxoSmithKline’s Zejula and AstraZeneca’s Lynparza have both moved towards EU approval in new indications after receiving positive opinions from the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) Committee for Medicinal Products for Human […]

September 22, 2020

Roche acquires Irish biotech firm Inflazome

Life sciences

Swiss pharma company Roche is set to acquire Irish biotech firm Inflazome for an upfront payment of $449m (€380m). In addition to the upfront payment, Inflazome is also eligible to […]

September 18, 2020

Eli Lilly, Amgen join forces to scale production of COVID-19 antibody cocktails

Life sciences

Months of fervid research have whittled away most potential options to treat patients with COVID-19, a group of antibody cocktails still hold promise. Eli Lilly believes so strongly in its contender that it’s […]