Eli Lilly has made its first investment in a UK venture fund, managed by Epidarex Capital, which will focus on backing early-stage projects.

The US major is making “a significant capital commitment” to the fund which has raised over £47.5 million, while King’s College London has also invested in the final closing. Other participants include the universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, as well as the European Investment Fund, Scottish Enterprise and Strathclyde Pension Fund.

Elaine Sullivan, head of global external R&D at Lilly, said the firm’s “commitment to this pioneering Epidarex fund will increase collaboration across industry and academia to help speed the delivery of new treatments”. She added that the investment “reflects Lilly’s strong belief in the excellence of life science R&D in the UK” and will complement its own  research and existing academic partnerships.

Chris Mottershead, head of research and innovation, at King’s College London, said funds like the Epidarex one “involving major international partners recognise the untapped potential” at UK universities. These funds “provide the much-needed capital to carry translational research from the laboratory to the commercial market, and should attract more investor interest in the world-class research carried out across the UK”.

Epidarex said the fund’s portfolio companies will benefit from its investment team’s considerable experience as well as its international network, including the USA and Asia.