Tullis-Dickerson Readies To Invest Fund

Early-stage life sciences investor Tullis-Dickerson & Co. has closed its fourth venture fund, Tullis-Dickerson Capital Focus III LP, with $122 million in commitments from individual and institutional investors.

The Greenwich, Conn.-based firm will scout investments in the areas of biotechnology, healthcare information technology, bioinformatics, medical devices and health care services, with special interest in cell therapies. It plans to finance approximately 15 companies before the fund is tapped out.

The fund’s investment strategy is to get in early and stay with the company through subsequent rounds of financing in order to build it to maturity, says Jim Tullis, the firm’s founder and chief executive. “We try to be the initial investor, to be the lead investor and almost always sit on the board of directors,” he says.

Although Tullis-Dickerson is a seed-stage investor, making initial investments between $500,00 and $1 million, it will invest up to $10 million over the course of a company’s life cycle and bring in a syndicate of investors to fill out the later rounds. The firm has long-standing relationships with later-stage life sciences investors like MPM Capital, Oxford BioSciences and Germany’s Techno Venture Management.

“When you have a seed-stage model, as the investment starts to be successful and needs more capital, we widen out the circle of investors as the companies begin to develop their stories and become more real,” Tullis says.

Tullis will manage the fund alongside the firm’s four other principals – Tim Buono, Tim Dickerson, Lyle Hohnke and Joan Neusceler.

The fund has already invested in four startups, three of which are existing Tullis-Dickerson portfolio companies. The fund has taken a stake alongside previous Tullis-Dickerson funds in Dallas-based Adams Laboratories, a maker of over-the-counter cough medicine; DermaCo, a sunscreen maker in Marietta, Ga.; and Replicon NeuroTherapeutics, a company in Danville, Calif., developing treatments for cancer of the central nervous system. Philadelphia-based BioRexis Pharmaceutical Corp. is the fund’s first original investment. The company is developing a protein engineering technology that will extend the half-life of existing pharmaceuticals.

Contact Carolina Braunschweig