Jun 19, 2020 - Economy & Business

Gates Foundation vets form global health-focused venture capital fund

An illustration of a money sign.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The Gates Foundation is best known for its philanthropy, but it has also spawned a venture capital fund whose mission is to show that investing in global health care issues can also yield returns.

Driving the news: Adjuvant Capital, founded by veterans of the Gates Foundation-sponsored Global Health Investment Fund, is raising a fund that will be at least $200 million, according to SEC filings.

  • Adjuvant founder and managing partner Glenn Rockman tells Axios that GHIF was created in 2012 (raising $108 million) to test whether it was possible to generate returns from these areas historically financed by philanthropy and governments.
  • The expectations were low: "Our investment memo at the time said 'get your money back in real terms,' meaning, to beat inflation," Rockman says.
  • Some of GHIF's team later left to set up Adjuvant, keeping much of the same approach.

The intrigue: While many life sciences and biotech investors go after cancer therapies and the like, Adjuvant is betting it can get investment returns from fighting diseases like malaria and tuberculosis.

  • “To some extent we are taking a contrarian bet that this is a bigger market than people realize,” Adjuvant principal Charlie Petty tells Axios.
  • Adjuvant invests alongside the usual top life-science VCs, but its portfolio will look different — it'll have more vaccines, for example, than most others.

Why it matters: As the current coronavirus pandemic has shown, global health crises can effectively halt entire economies without treatments and prevention.

  • Already, some of Adjuvant’s existing portfolio companies are working on potential treatments for COVID-19.

Go deeper: The legacy of Kleiner Perkins' 2006 pandemic fund

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