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ORI Capital, the venture firm behind CG’s big IPO, raises new biotech fund

ORI Capital, the China- and U.S.-based venture investor behind the biotechnology sector’s largest initial public offering this year, has raised a new life sciences fund, the firm said Thursday.

The $260 million fund is the second for ORI since the firm was launched in 2015 by Simone Song, formerly the head of health banking for China at Goldman Sachs. ORI closed its first fund one year later, focusing on investments in cancer, heart and neurodegenerative diseases.

The firm’s approach is built around a database it calls “Orizon.” ORI uses the database to sift through thousands of young companies and experimental medicines, weighing their prospects against either marketed drugs or others in development. It prioritizes investments in companies “tackling significant diseases with high mortality rates,” Song said in a statement.

The approach has already resulted in some notable payouts. ORI invested in Semma Therapeutics, the diabetes cell therapy developer Vertex Pharmaceuticals bought for $950 million in 2019. It also backed immune disease drug developer Kymab before its $1.1 billion acquisition by Sanofi. Drugs from both startups are now in clinical testing. Song told Bloomberg last year the firm believed it would exit most of the investments from its first fund by the end of 2024 with an expected 3.6-times return on invested capital.

More recently, ORI saw another one of its investments, cancer drug startup CG Oncology, raise $380 million in an IPO in January. That offering was the biotech sector’s largest this year and the most lucrative IPO since last May. according to BioPharma Dive data. ORI was CG’s top shareholder, owning an 11% stake in the company prior to the offering.

The firm typically targets early- to mid-stage companies. Going forward, it is eyeing newer drugmaking approaches such as chemical drugs that target RNA, so-called protein degraders, cell therapies and RNA-based medicines.

“We are in a golden-era of innovation across the intersection of AI and biology, where technological breakthroughs are creating new approaches to diagnosing and treating disease,” Song said in the statement, adding that the current environment “provides an attractive opportunity for investing in the next generation of leading biotech companies.”

ORI isn’t alone in raising a new fund. Since the second half of last year, OrbiMed, Westlake Village Biopartners, Abingworth and Bioluminescence Ventures have all closed new funds. Arch Venture Partners and Flagship Pioneering are each working on $3 billion funds as well.