Boehringer Ingelheim is the latest drugmaker to set up a venture fund that will invest in innovative biotechnology and start-up companies.

The Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund (BIVF), which will initially have 100 million euros to spend , will look at firms which have “ground-breaking therapeutic approaches and technologies”. Opening investments will be up to 2 million euros per venture up to a total of 10-15 million euros over the course of a partnership.

Boehringer said that “beyond capital investment, we intend to take an active role with our portfolio companies,” adding value “through our own extensive drug discovery, scientific and managerial expertise and access to selected relevant experts and knowledge”. The privately-owned German group goes on to state that it would “welcome the opportunity to enter into strategic partnerships” with BIVF recipients, “however we will be equally proud to see portfolio companies develop in their own right or enter strategic partnerships with other pharmaceutical partners”.

Chairman Andreas Barner said the investments will extend beyond the company’s areas of expertise, as “we are aware that there is an entire landscape of novel therapeutic ideas and potentially breakthrough technologies that need to be supported”. These may include stem cells, RNA silencing as well as new generation vaccines, protein or antibody technologies and first-in-class lead compounds, while “disease-related biomarkers would be an additional area of focus”, Boehringer said.

The first investments will be made this year and the company said that “investment opportunities will be sought, on a worldwide basis”. Michel Pairet, head of the BIVF, said it represents “a long-term investment in external innovation…from early stages into clinical testing”.

A number of pharmaceutical firms have similar corporate venture funds in place such as GlaxoSmithKline (SR One), Roche, Novartis, Eli Lilly, Merck KGaA and Novo Nordisk.