New Domain Partnership Focuses on China’s Emerging Healthcare Market

3/13/13Follow @bvbigelow

Domain Associates, the life sciences venture firm based in San Diego and Princeton, NJ, says today it has formed a partnership with the Beijing-based firm Elite Consulting to license biomedical products and technologies from the West, and to help commercialize those technologies in China.

The exclusive partnership, called Domain Elite, intends to in-license rights to drugs, medical devices, and diagnostic technologies from life sciences companies in the U.S. and elsewhere. With the rights to a particular biopharmaceutical asset or set of assets secured, Domain Elite plans to start a company in China to move the technology into China’s emerging healthcare market.

Domain is providing seed financing to Domain Elite to search for the kind of products that fit healthcare needs in China. The partnership also plans to recruit executives for each company and would look to Domain and its venture capital network to provide Series A funding as needed for each startup. In this way, Domain Elite could create multiple biomedical startups in China for years to come.

Dr. Brian Halak, Domain Associates, Domain Elite

Brian Halak

“We’re trying to create our own investment opportunities in China, and fulfill unmet medical needs and improve healthcare in China,” Domain partner Brian Halak told me in a phone call from Beijing earlier this week. He said the concept is comparable in some ways to The Foundry, the Menlo Park, CA-based incubator for medical devices.

“VCs are always looking for the next great technology,” Halak said, “but at Domain, we’re also looking for the next great business model.”

For example, Domain revealed a year ago that it had joined forces with Rusnano, the Moscow-based nanotechnology arm of the Government of the Russian Federation, to invest as much as $760 million in life sciences ventures in both the U.S. and Russia. The deal has provided additional capital for Domain-backed startups like Lithera in San Diego and Regado Biosciences in Basking Ridge, NJ. Rusnano and Domain also agreed to jointly develop a drug and medical device manufacturing facility in Russia that can produce drugs and products that have been licensed from U.S. life sciences startups.

Domain’s initiatives in China and Russia were not part of a grand strategy, Halak said. But both were rooted in something the firm recognized three or four years ago—that emerging markets were becoming increasingly significant to … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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