Deerfield raises $840 Million in new healthcare venture fund

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Healthcare investment firm Deerfield Management Co. has raised $840 million for a new venture capital fund dedicated to early drug innovation, digital health and medical technology.

New York-based Deerfield said half of the funds will be used to back companies and academic institutions developing new drugs. The rest will be put toward digital health, telemedicine, medical-technology and health-care delivery companies, which the firm expects to become more important to the health-care system in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The global health-care industry will be fundamentally changed by the novel coronavirus, which has already infected more than one million patients worldwide, James E. Flynn, Deerfield’s managing partner, said in an interview.

“There’s no question that the pandemic has accelerated this mission,” Flynn said. “Hospital systems amid the outbreak have logistically been a nightmare. It’s becoming less safe for people who require emergency care, for example, to be able to get that care and then follow up. Digital health companies have a value proposition to the system, and we’ll focus on a number of things in that vein.”

Deerfield, which launched in 1994 and now has about $10 billion in assets under management, has recently financed closely held companies including the on-demand health-care service Ready Responders and RubiconMD, a platform that connects primary-care doctors with specialists. It’s also committed $1 million to organizations affected by the Covid-19 outbreak or in need of additional resources to deliver care.

“Right now, regulation behind telehealth is being relaxed, and reimbursement expanded,” Flynn said. “Technologies that allow more flexible points of care will be more valuable.”

The investment firm’s new portfolio companies will have access to its emerging campus of biotechnology labs located at 345 Park Avenue South in New York. Last year, Deerfield bought the 12-floor, 300,000 square-foot building in the NoMad district, and is in the process of converting it into a series of labs, engineering, computing and shared office spaces.

The new fund, known as Healthcare Innovations Fund II, builds on a previous venture vehicle launched in 2015 with $550 million in commitments from prominent health systems including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Seattle Children’s Hospital. In addition to Deerfield’s work to seed startups, the firm also invests in publicly traded and private companies.

“Our investors are mission-oriented, and have a long-term view. Most are not-for-profit endowments, and intentionally so,” Flynn said. “What we’re looking for is to get at the root of discovery.”

Bloomberg News