Japan Investment Corp: $2 bln fund targets U.S. biotech, drug discovery

  • Why this is important: New Japanese fund establishes a collaboration platform for U.S. startups and Japanese investors

Japan Investment Corp, the new state-backed fund, set up a $2 billion fund, JIC-US, to invest in biotech and drug-discovery startups.

California-based JIC-US will use a venture capital fund to invest in seed and early-stage companies as a GP or LP, according to a news release. It will also consider joint investments.

JIC-US will make use of a public equity fund to invest in companies just before they list or when they scale up after listing, the release said.

JIC was established in September after the planned reorganization of Innovation Network of Japan, a public-private investment fund. It aims is to strengthen Japanese industrial competitiveness and maximize long-term returns, a news release says.

JIC-US is the first fund announcement by JIC. It will be led by Yasunori Kaneko, deputy president.  Kaneko previously was managing director at Skyline Ventures, a Silicon Valley venture firm investing in product-focused healthcare companies.

JIC-US will enable sharing and collaboration on advanced technologies between its U.S. investments and Japanese pharmaceutical companies, research institutions, universities and startups.

Japanese universities and pharma companies will also support commercialization of JIC-US’s investments, enabling the fund to expand and strengthen its investment activity in biotech and drug discovery.

JIC is led by CEO Masaaki Tanaka, who previously worked with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Japan’s largest conglomerate with more than $2.8 trillion in assets.

JIC may create funds with PE firms, sovereign-wealth funds and institutional investors to invest in Japanese businesses instead of investing directly, Tanaka told Reuters.

These funds will invest in both domestic and foreign businesses to create “unicorn ventures” and leverage promising untapped technologies.

Action Item: Learn more about JIC on its website here: https://www.j-ic.co.jp/en/.