DFJ raising $125M for life science fund

Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) has launched a $125 million life sciences-focused affiliate fund called DFJ InCube Ventures and has secured $10 million in limited partner commitments from the venture arm of Medtronic, according to a regulatory filing. Minneapolis-based Medtronic is known for making pacemakers and other medical device equipment.

The DFJ affiliate, based in Menlo Park, Calif., will be run by Managing Directors Mir Imran, Wayne Roe and Andrew Farquharson, with help from Associate Sven Iversen.

Imran is a serial entrepreneur with more 200 patents on various health care devices. He has started more than 20 companies to commercialize those innovations, including two (Vidamed and Percusurge) that were bought by Medtronic. Imran is no stranger to the DFJ family. He served as a venture partner for DFJ ePlanet Ventures, leading investments in nine startups during his tenure.

Imran and Farquharson ran a medical device incubator called InCube Labs before teaming up with DFJ. The incubator backed 14 medical device companies since its 1995 inception, according to its website. Six of those companies have already seen exits, averaging nearly a 4x return to their venture investors.

“They’ve come up with many interesting things over the years,” says Hanson Gifford, CEO of medical device incubator The Foundry. The two firms are involved in the same space, but are not direct competitors.

DFJ’s core fund has not invested much in health care. Of the nearly 400 companies the firm has backed over the past 22 years, just 10 were health care startups, according to data from Thomson Reuters (publisher of PE Week). It’s obvious that the firm is taking more interest in the space though. Six of those 10 investments were made just last year.

InCube Ventures counts several prominent executives as members of its advisory board, including Texas Instruments Chairman Tom Engibous, AST Research founder Safi Qureshey and attorney Peter Hutt, among others.

DFJ Managing Director Don Wood told PE Week last year that the firm was looking for a life science fund to partner with last year (see June 11, 2007 issue).

Neither Wood nor Imran responded to a request for comment.

The fund is one of a number of affiliates that DFJ works with. Typically, the way DFJ works with its network of funds is that it takes a piece of the affiliate’s carry and fees.