MILAN–(–)–Sofinnova Partners, a leading European life sciences venture capital firm based in Paris, London and Milan, announced today an investment in Genespire, a Milan-based gene-therapy company developing best-in-class therapies for patients affected by genetic diseases. This is the third investment for the Sofinnova Telethon Fund, bringing the total financing of Italian startups by Sofinnova Partners to €25 million over the past six months. The Sofinnova Telethon Fund is the largest fund in Italy dedicated to biotechnologies, making early-stage investments in Italian companies targeting cures for rare and genetic diseases.
Genespire was spearheaded by the renowned gene therapy pioneer Professor Luigi Naldini. This investment by the Sofinnova Telethon Fund follows on the heels of its leading-edge investments in Epsilen Bio, which is developing a technology to turn off genes linked to specific pathologies without irreversibly modifying the DNA (a major potential safety advantage), and PinCell, a pre-clinical stage biotech company focused on the development of new therapies for rare dermatological diseases.
“These investments are the result of the excellent collaboration between Sofinnova Partners and The Telethon Foundation,” said Graziano Seghezzi, Managing Partner of Sofinnova Partners. “These exceptional start-up companies validate our conviction in the strength of the Italian market for supporting biotechnological advances.”
The Sofinnova Telethon Fund, managed by Sofinnova Partners, received commitments totaling €108 million, exceeding its target and establishing it as the largest fund to emerge from ITATech, a joint venture between the European Investment Fund (EIF) and Italy’s Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CdP). “We have gained unprecedented levels of support from Italian investors for our Italian biotech fund,” added Mr. Seghezzi. “We are proud and humbled by the trust we received from some of the country’s leading institutional, corporate and private investors who more than doubled the initial support provided by ITATech.”
Francesca Pasinelli, CEO of The Telethon Foundation, said the biggest winners of this partnership would be the patients who suffer from rare and genetic diseases. “This Fund has always been about them and additionally, is dedicated to elevating Italian science, supported by Italian investors and focused on Italy’s best entrepreneurs and companies,” she said. “We are seeing deep synergies between what we are doing with Sofinnova Partners and our ongoing, fruitful collaboration with the San Raffaele Hospital.”
The Sofinnova Telethon Fund team is led by technology transfer specialists Lucia Faccio and Paola Pozzi, Partners at Sofinnova Partners, who are based in the Milan office. The office also houses BiovelocITA, Italy’s first biotechnology accelerator co-founded in 2015 by Sofinnova Partners in collaboration with Silvano Spinelli and Gabriella Camboni, two serial entrepreneurs with close ties to Sofinnova Partners. Ms. Faccio has over 20 years of experience in the domain as the Director of Research and Business Development of The Telethon Foundation and as the Director of the Technology Transfer Office at the San Raffaele Hospital. Ms. Pozzi, who succeeded Ms. Faccio at the San Raffaele Hospital, has 16 years of experience in patent portfolio market-oriented management and development leading to incorporation of new companies with strong IP assets.
The Sofinnova Telethon Fund will continue to invest exclusively in Italy, seeking to identify, create and develop some of the best companies in the field of rare and genetic diseases.
About Sofinnova Partners
Sofinnova Partners is a leading European venture capital firm specialized in Life Sciences. Based in Paris, France, with offices in London and Milan, the firm brings together a team of 40 professionals from all over Europe, the U.S. and Asia. The firm focuses on paradigm-shifting technologies alongside visionary entrepreneurs. Sofinnova Partners invests across the Life Sciences value chain as a lead or cornerstone investor, from very early-stage opportunities to late-stage/public companies. It has backed nearly 500 companies over more than 48 years, creating market leaders around the globe. Today, Sofinnova Partners has over €2 billion under management. For more information, please visit: www.sofinnovapartners.com
Genespire is a biotechnology company focused on the development of transformative gene therapies for patients affected by genetic diseases, particularly primary immunodeficiencies and inherited metabolic diseases. Based in Milan, Italy, Genespire was founded in March 2020 by the gene therapy pioneer Prof. Luigi Naldini, Prof. Alessio Cantore, The Telethon Foundation and San Raffaele Hospital. It is a spin-off of SR-Tiget, a world leading cell and gene therapy research institute and backed by Sofinnova Partners.
About Epsilen Bio
Epsilen Bio is a biotechnology company developing transformative therapies for patients affected by underserved medical conditions, through stable and long-lasting epigenetic silencing of genes involved in pathological processes. Based in Milan, Italy, Epsilen Bio was founded in December 2019 by the renowned gene therapy experts Prof. Angelo Lombardo and Prof. Luigi Naldini, The Telethon Foundation and San Raffaele Hospital. Epsilen Bio is a spin-off of SR-Tiget, a world leading cell and gene therapy research institute, and received seed funding from Sofinnova Partners. For more information, please visit: www.epsilenbio.com
PinCell is a biotechnology company targeting a novel pathological pathway to develop first-in-class anti-inflammatory therapy for the treatment of rare, severe skin diseases with high unmet medical need. Based in Milan, Italy, PinCell was founded in October 2008 as an academic spin-off of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia by the world-class dermatology experts Prof. Carlo Pincelli and Dr. Alessandra Marconi. PinCell received seed funding from Sofinnova Partners. For more information, please visit: www.pincell.it
About The Telethon Foundation (Fondazione Telethon)
The Fondazione Telethon is a non-profit organisation created in 1990 as a response to the appeals of a group of stakeholders, who saw scientific research as the only real opportunity to fight genetic diseases and win. Thanks to the funds raised through the television marathon, along with other initiatives and a network of partners and volunteers, Telethon finances the best scientific research on rare genetic diseases, with the ultimate objective of making the treatments developed available to everyone who needs them. Throughout its 28 years of activity, Fondazione Telethon has invested more than € 528 million in funding more than 2.630 projects to study more than 570 diseases, involving over 1.600 scientists. Fondazione Telethon has made a significant contribution to the worldwide advancement of knowledge regarding rare genetic diseases and of research with a view to developing treatments. For more information, please visit: www.telethon.it
About San Raffaele Hospital (Ospedale San Raffaele)
Ospedale San Raffaele (OSR) is a clinical-research-university hospital established in 1971 to provide international-level specialised care for the most complex and difficult health conditions. OSR is part of Gruppo San Donato, the leading hospital group in Italy. The hospital is a multi-specialty center with over 60 clinical specialties; it is accredited by the Italian National Health System to provide care to both public and private, national and international patients. Research at OSR focuses on integrating basic, translational and clinical activities to provide the most advanced care to our patients. The institute is recognized as a global authority in molecular medicine and gene therapy, and is at the forefront of research in many other fields. Ospedale San Raffaele is a first-class institute which treats many diseases and stands out for the deep interaction between clinical and scientific area. This makes the transfer of scientific results from the laboratories to the patient’s bed easier. Its mission is to improve knowledge of diseases, identify new therapies and encourage young scientists and doctors to grow professionally. For more information, please visit: www.hsr.it