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Versant raises $100M for new Canada fund on top of $600M for global biotech startups

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A venture capital firm focused on biotechnology and life sciences has raised more than half a billion dollars for its global fund, plus another pool of funding for firms with operations in Canada.

San Francisco-based Versant Ventures said Monday that it had closed the latest addition to its global funding pool, Versant Venture Capital VII, at its hard cap of $600 million. Fund VII – which the company said exceeded its initial target – will be allocated across at least 20 biotechnology companies in the US, Canada and Europe. According to a Sept. 17 Form D filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the firm had originally set out to raise $500 million.

In addition, Versant raised $100 million for Versant Voyageurs I, a Canadian companion fund whose aim is to provide capital to between five to eight startup companies with Canadian operations. Like Fund VII, Voyageurs I also exceeded its target amount. An April 25 Form D filing titled “Versant Voyageurs I Feeder, L.P.” provides an offering size of $20 million.

In an effort to tap what it considered overlooked geographies that nevertheless have strong technology and innovation infrastructure, Versant established a presence in Canada in 2013.

“Canada provides us access to another geography with exceptionally strong academic science,” Versant managing director Brad Bolzon said in a statement. “Despite this top-tier scientific infrastructure, the venture and startup ecosystem has not grown at the same pace. As a result, capturing the opportunity in Canada requires having the necessary capital to more fully develop foundational discoveries underlying newly launched biotech companies.”

In October, another major player in life sciences venture capital, Chicago-based ARCH Venture Partners, said in a Form D filing with the SEC that it planned to raise $600 million for its 10th fund, Fund X. However, as of the Oct. 26 filing, none of that capital had yet been raised. Versant’s last major fund, Fund VI, raised $400 million in January 2017, having initially set out to raise $350 million.

Last week, Versant launched Black Diamond Therapeutics, which came out of stealth mode with a $20 million Series A funding round provided exclusively by Versant. The company is discovering and developing drugs that target allosteric mutations in cancers.

Photo: abluecup, Getty Images

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