CDC invests in Adjuvant Capital venture fund to improve global public health

18 Feb 2021

CDC Group has today announced its investment in a US$300 million fund from Adjuvant Capital focused on accelerating the development of medical innovations for historically overlooked public health challenges. Launched in 2019, Adjuvant’s debut fund will support promising new technologies for indications that the venture capital industry has largely ignored.

“Billions of people around the world live under constant assault from diseases like malaria, shigella, hookworm, tuberculosis, and Lassa fever, yet Wall Street and Silicon Valley typically pay little attention to these widespread challenges,” said Glenn Rockman, managing partner at Adjuvant Capital. “As viruses like Ebola, Zika, and SARS-CoV-2 have clearly demonstrated, wealthy countries are vulnerable to these pathogens as well. Our new fund will finance cutting-edge research so we are better prepared for threats old and new alike, with the ultimate goal of saving or improving millions of lives by bringing urgently-needed drugs, vaccines, diagnostics, and medical devices to market.”

Adjuvant has already backed 14 companies developing technologies for high-impact indications ranging from rare conditions, such as melioidosis, to widespread global emergencies, such as COVID-19. Each Adjuvant investment includes binding commitments to make any successfully commercialized products broadly accessible to underserved populations in low- and middle-income countries.

Diverse coalition of investors committed to global health

To finance these ambitious goals, Adjuvant has assembled a unique coalition of conventional and catalytic investors, many of whom are also contributing scientific advice and emerging markets expertise. These investors—which include traditional asset managers, multinational biopharmaceutical companies, development finance institutions, and some of the world’s largest foundations—all hope their balance sheets can increasingly support the march toward a safer, healthier, more equitable global community.

“A wide array of private, public and philanthropic partners have come together to help ensure the most promising health technologies and services are available to people most in need,” said Mark Suzman, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “There is an important role for investment capital to play in stimulating innovation and making markets work for the poor, so that everyone has the chance to live a healthy, productive life.”

In addition to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Adjuvant’s investors include Anthos Fund & Asset Management, Beacon Pointe Advisors, CDC Group, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Dalio Philanthropies, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, ELMA Investments Ltd., the Ford Foundation, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Global Health Investment Corporation (with funding from the Government of Germany through KfW), Laerdal Million Lives Fund, Merck, Novartis, RockCreek, Sonanz, and The Sorenson Impact Foundation, among others.

Lutz Hegemann, Group Head for Corporate Affairs & Global Health at Novartis, noted that: “As a company focused on science-based innovation to address some of society’s most challenging healthcare issues, we are pleased to invest in Adjuvant Capital as part of our holistic global health strategy. Novartis is committed to systematically integrating access strategies into how we research, develop, and deliver our new medicines to as many people as possible. Our investment in Adjuvant Capital complements these efforts, which we can only achieve through collaborations across sectors and industries.”

“Merck’s investment in Adjuvant’s new fund demonstrates our commitment to impact investing as a creative and sustainable approach to improve healthcare for underserved populations globally. We are pleased to join the team at Adjuvant and the other partners and investors who share a common goal to advance promising scientific platforms to improve global health,” said Julie Louise Gerberding, MD, MPH, Executive Vice President and Chief Patient Officer, Strategic Communications, Global Public Policy and Population Health at Merck.

Deploying capital at a rapid pace, with a rich pipeline of new opportunities

Highlights from Adjuvant’s young portfolio include several companies poised to develop new solutions for rabies, yellow fever, group B streptococcus, non-hormonal contraception, chikungunya, herpes, respiratory syncytial virus, HIV, and COVID-19. Although based in the U.S., Adjuvant pursues the most promising technologies and talent globally, with investments in Nigeria, Bangladesh, and China, in addition to collaborations in India and Western Europe. Recent financings include:

  • New York-based Codagenix, which is using computational biology to “rationally design” vaccines for intractable public health challenges;
  • California-based ChromaCode, which is leveraging machine-learning and artificial intelligence to significantly increase the throughput of existing molecular diagnostic equipment;
  • Lagos-based 54gene, which is using pan-African genetic data to drive discoveries in drug and vaccine development; and,
  • Beijing-based Yisheng Biopharma, which is addressing chronic supply issues in the rabies vaccine market.

“Accelerating the widespread availability of emerging public health innovations is a smart business decision that has the potential to benefit millions of people, especially women and girls, in low-income countries,” said Jenny Yip, managing partner at Adjuvant Capital. “We firmly believe that our investment model represents an innovative way to benefit both our investors and society at large.”

Nick O’Donohoe, CDC Group’s CEO, said: “Access to healthcare for all is a fundamental part of CDC’s mission. As a development finance institution, we have an important role to play in helping to deliver this using our patient capital. COVID-19 has shone a light on the need to strengthen healthcare ecosystems across the globe, and especially in developing countries. Investing in Adjuvant Capital is a crucial part of this journey; investing in world-class, tech-backed healthcare solutions will help bring vital medication to those who need it most.”

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