If you were handed a check for $200 million, what would you invest it in?
Two Seattle investors, both with close ties to philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, will soon face that tough decision. But they already have a plan: invest in bringing innovative medical and healthcare advancements to the market.
Julie Sunderland and Dr. Boris Nikolic are those investors, and they are the co-founders of Seattle-based Biomatics Capital Partners, a new investment firm that just announced the close of a $200 million fund that will become early investments in up to 20 life sciences companies. The firm had initially planned to raise only $150 million, according to an SEC filing.
Biomatics will focus on investing in companies working in genomics, digital health and data-driven health care technologies. Those are all areas that are developing at lightning speed at the moment, and they face immense pressure to turn advancements in science and technology into tangible change in a monolithic, slow-moving healthcare industry.
“Our health care ecosystem is at a tipping point,” Nikolic said in a press release announcing the new fund. “In the next decade, breakthrough science and technology will fundamentally transform the practice of medicine and delivery of health care. Data will drive this transformation.”
Before co-founding the fund in 2016, Nikolic was Bill Gates’ chief advisor for science and technology and Sunderland was the director of program related investments for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Sunderland said the combination of technical, scientific, and financial expertise will be the fund’s secret sauce.
“It’s our goal to seek out radically innovative solutions—the outliers,” Sunderland said. “By combining the best of science with sound investment practices, we are looking to create extraordinary financial value for our investors and a pathway to better patient outcomes.”
Although Biomatics is based in Seattle, the fund doesn’t have a regional focus. The firm’s portfolio so far includes companies in New York, California, and Washington, D.C., but none closer to its home in the Pacific Northwest.
That might be a chilling omen for Washington state’s life sciences industry, which has seen a downturn in growth in the past few years.
The $200 million fund included contributions from family offices, institutions and individuals. The firm estimated that it will invest the money in 15 to 20 companies, acting as the lead Series A investor for the majority of them. Biomatics was founded in 2016.