The UK-based Wellcome Trust has launched the new evergreen investment company Syncona Partners to provide capital to life science start-ups.


The firm, which was originally announced as Project Sigma in March 2012, will provide initial capital of £200 million, drawn from the Wellcome Trust’s endowment, to help healthcare start-ups grow and create long-term sustainable businesses. Its aim is to hold investments in a small number of significant, profitable businesses that have transformed their healthcare markets.

Syncona will invest on a global basis with an amount of capital appropriate for each opportunity, with investments usually ranging from £1 million to £20 million per company. Syncona will support early and late-stage companies as a majority investor or as part of a syndicate, and will focus on those companies that develop healthcare products (devices, therapeutics, diagnostics and IT), services and business models.

The firm will be made up of five executives – Martin Murphy, as chief executive, and Iraj Ali, John Bradshaw, Chris Hollowood and James Peach as partners – and a seven member board led by Nigel Keen, who is also a chairman of a number of healthcare technology companies.

Murphy, previously a partner at venture capital firm MVM Life Sciences Partners, said: “We expect to play our part in building successful businesses based on innovation within the life sciences and healthcare industry. We very much look forward to working with entrepreneurs, leading academics and inventors to build success stories in the UK, Europe and beyond.”

In recent years, the Wellcome Trust has increased its private equity holdings in partnership with some of the world’s best venture investors.

Sir Mark Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust, said: “This important investment opportunity will help the Trust to fulfil its vision of achieving extraordinary improvements in health, by generating returns that can be used to fund the work of outstanding researchers in the biomedical sciences and the medical humanities.”