A European life sciences investment firm has closed its latest fund, worth nearly half of $1 billion.

Medicxi said Friday that it had closed the fund, Medicxi III, with a value of 400 million euros, or about $449 million. The firm has locations in London, Geneva and Jersey, and the new fund’s investors include U.S.-based Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC and Swiss drugmaker Novartis, along with previous limited investors in Medicxi funds and new investors.

“Medicxi III is one of the largest biotech funds in Europe and consolidates Medicxi’s position as a key operating platform for scientific entrepreneurs and drug hunters,” said the firm’s co-founder, Francesco De Rubertis, in a statement.

Medicxi said the new fund will invest in fully integrated private companies with an underlying platform or pipeline of assets. The company added that the fund’s size and the rapidity with which it was raised indicate the continued maturity of Europe’s life sciences sector.

Although Europe is home to some of the world’s largest drugmakers – Switzerland’s Novartis and Roche, the U.K.’s AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline, Germany’s Bayer and Merck KGaA and France’s Sanofi, among others – and a vast network of medical research centers, its biotech startup scene has lagged that of the U.S. In a phone interview last month, Sofinnova Partners Managing Partner Antoine Papiernik pointed out that the reason Europe’s sector remains in a less advanced stage is that it got a later start than its U.S. counterpart, which sports a lively startup scene centered on the San Francisco and Boston metropolitan areas, with growing biotech sectors in places like New York, San Diego, Seattle and Philadelphia.

The amount of investment flowing into Europe has certainly been on an upswing, even if it remains far behind where the U.S. stands. In its latest report on healthcare investment trends, for the first half of this year, Silicon Valley Bank found that venture capital investments and deals in European biopharma increased from $1.8 billion in 2017 to $2.7 billion last year; comparable figures for the U.S. were $6.3 billion and $15 billion, respectively. Investment overall this year is expected to fall below 2018, but Europe continues to show a positive trend, with $1.3 billion invested so far, compared with $6.4 billion in the U.S.

In diagnostics and tools, the figure for Europe went from $363 million in 2017 to $440 million in 2018, and so far has reached $375 million this year. The figure for the U.S. went from $4.4 billion to $5.1 billion and so far is $1.8 billion this year.

Photo: AlxeyPnferov, Getty Images

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