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Gov’t, Orbimed Launch Biomed Fund

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Friday, April 22nd, 2011

As reported in Globes.co.il: Orbimed is the largest healthcare investment firm in the world.

OrbiMed Advisors LLC, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor have signed an agreement to set up a $203 million biotech fund. Orbimed General Partner Jonathan Silverstein told “Globes” in an exclusive interview that the amount could very well increase.Orbimed launched the fund today. The fund will invest in life sciences companies, with an emphasis on biopharmaceuticals, which the government has identified as a field in which Israel has an excellent but not fully tapped infrastructure.

Orbimed met the biomedical fund tender’s high threshold conditions as well as the requirement to raise at least $76 million. The company succeeded in raising $160 million, more than double the minimum – no small achievement given the current difficulty in raising capital. The amount raised maximizes the government’s investment.

The government will invest $40 million in Orbimed’s Israel unit. Orbimed is the largest life sciences investment fund in the world.The biomed fund in Israel will be one of the largest venture capital funds in the country. Orbimed’s entry into Israel is expected to boost foreign investment in Israel’s life sciences industry by $200 million through co-investments with foreign venture capital funds.

Silverstein said that the major investors in Orbimed include Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (Nasdaq: TEVA; TASE: TEVA), which invested $25 million; two large US biotech companies; a large US bank; two Israeli insurance companies; and several investment funds from America, Europe, and Asia. 30% are return investors, and the rest are new investors.

Orbimed set up an Israeli office in April 2010 with three partners: Dr. Nissim Darvish, Erez Chimovits, and Anat Naschitz. Orbimed Israel will fully cooperate with Orbimed Advisors, which will enable portfolio companies to benefit from Orbimed’s extensive experience and operations in the US, China, and India.

Darvish said, “The fund will invest in the wide range of fields in the life sciences, including medical devices, biotech, and diagnostics. It will invest in every stage of companies’ development from the seed stage forward.”

Orbimed Advisors general partner Jonathan Silverstein said, “The decision to operate in Israel is based on recognition of Israel’s great potential in the life sciences in the coming years. In the past two years, we’ve seen rapid growth in this field in Israel, and a large increase in the number of companies at different stages of clinical trials. Orbimed examined the plans of other governments and decided that the combination of the Israeli government’s plans with the potential of Israel’s industry was best.”