Irish Govt unveils €172m venture capital fund for life-sciences sector

20 May 2014

The Irish Government has unveiled a €172m venture capital fund for investing in innovative Irish companies in the life-sciences sector. Lightstone Ventures is partnering with Enterprise Ireland and the National Pension Reserve Fund to manage the fund.

This is the third investment by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through Enterprise Ireland under the Innovation Fund Ireland programme.

Enterprise Ireland has invested €20m in the fund alongside a commitment of €10m from the National Pensions Reserve Fund.

“The investment in this fund adds another source of funding to the Irish market, further increasing the range of sources of funding available for Irish companies,” the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, TD, said.

“Increasing the availability of different types and sources of non-bank financing is a core objective of the Action Plan for Jobs 2014.”

“Research shows us that start-up companies have a significant positive impact on job creation. Almost 4,000 high-level jobs alone were created by indigenous venture-capital backed companies in the three years to 2012,” Bruton added.

Focus on breakthroughs

Silicon Valley-based Lightstone Ventures (LSV) was founded in 2012 by the Life Science Partners of Advanced Technology Ventures (ATV) and Morgenthaler Ventures to focus on novel breakthrough medical devices and biopharmaceuticals.

The Lightstone team manages the Morgenthaler and ATV life-science portfolios of more than 40 life-science companies and has been involved in several of the largest, venture-backed healthcare exits over the last decade, including Ardian, Avidia, FoldRx, Hypnion, MicroVention, Morphotek, Orexigen, Perclose, Plexxikon, Proteolix, Threshold and Zeltiq.

Lightstone Ventures closed its first Irish-based deal, FIRE1, in December 2013. FIRE1 is a new company launched in conjunction with The Foundry, a premier medical-device incubator. Lightstone Ventures and New Enterprise Associates (NEA) co-led the Series A investment round in the company. Global medical-device leader Covidien plc also invested in the company. The board of the company is in the process of identifying a number of key hires to drive the company forward.

“As Europe’s importance in the development and commercialisation of breakthrough medical technologies continues to grow, Lightstone Ventures believes it is essential to establish a local European presence,” said Lightstone partner Jason Lettmann, who will relocate to Dublin this summer to lead this Irish initiative.

“Dublin’s access to talent, innovation, and world-class research coupled with a fair and balanced regulatory approach make it an ideal location for such a hub.”

Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon welcomed the news.

“Enterprise Ireland looks forward to working with the team to drive the further development of the Irish life-sciences sector,” she said.

DNA image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years