Rich Aldrich, Biotech Powerbroker, Breaks Silence on New $87M Longwood Founders Fund

1/6/11

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continuation of what we have been doing for the last few years. We started Sirtris and Verastem by working with top academic scientists out of Harvard and MIT, respectively, to create a company built on new, potentially breakthrough science. In the case of Alnara and Concert Pharmaceuticals, we joined with proven scientific entrepreneurs to start companies based on an innovative scientific platform.

X: What are the big ideas in biotech research that are ripe for VC investments?

RA: With the great advances being made in biomedical science on many fronts, there are huge opportunities. At the same time, there has also been a bit of a retrenchment on the investment front, which means there is less money chasing these opportunities. We think it is a very target rich environment. Verastem, which we just formed a couple of months ago with Bob Weinberg, Eric Lander, and Piyush Gupta, is an example of the incredible opportunity that is out there. The science has enormous potential, and we now have backed it with a strong entrepreneurial team and great investors.

X: Do the investments by GSK and Genzyme have any strategic significance for your fund?

RA: Neither GSK nor Genzyme have strategic rights.

X: Was $85 million the amount that Longwood’s partners set out to raise for this first fund? Why is this an appropriate sum for what you’re trying to accomplish at Longwood?

RA: Our goal was to raise an amount of capital that we feel we can profitably invest in one to two new companies per year. This rate of investment is consistent with our taking an active role in startup, financing and building these companies.

X: What is going to differentiate Longwood from other new and established VCs focused on life sciences?

RA: A focus on breakthrough science, top-tier management and scientific teams, a strong track record of creating value for investors, and a strong network of successful entrepreneurs, consistent investors, and decision makers at major healthcare companies.

X: Do Michelle and Christoph plan to keep their jobs at Glaxo now that Longwood has closed its first fund?

RA: Michelle Dipp and Christoph Westphal are … Next Page »

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