The venture capital arm of Boehringer Ingelheim has made an equity investment into France's Eyevensys, which has developed a new process for non-viral gene therapy using electrotransfer that produces proteins for the treatment of ocular disease.

No specific details about the size of the stake taken by Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund (BIVF) have been disclosed but Ivan Cohen-Tanugi, chairman of Eyevensys, said the investment "brings us credibility, further raises our profile and gives us access to their wealth of experience in pharmaceutical and biotechnology R&D".

The BIVF investment marks the start of Eyevensys' next round of funding, which is planned to take place before the end of the second quarter and aims to fund the business through to completion of Phase IIa trials. It is currently focusing on two ophthalmological indications, namely the rare condition uveitis and age-related macular degeneration.

Michel Pairet, Boehringer's head of non-clinical R&D, has been appointed to the Eyevensys board. Dr Cohen-Tanugi added that the latter's experience "will undoubtedly help us to strengthen our development", noting that "discussions are already underway with potential new investors.”

Dr Pariet said that Eyevensys' novel approach, "which targets pathologies where few therapies are available and offers potential advantages in terms of effectiveness, administration and tolerability, makes it a perfect fit" with the BIVF's criteria for investment. He added that "in the future, medicine will increasingly rely on a combination of technologies, as we see here with the combination of gene therapy with a medical device".

Paris-based Eyevensys, which was founded in 2009 and employs five people, raised 1.6 million euros in January 2012. The investment is BIVF's sixth since its launch in 2010 and its first in a French company.