5 September 2018Americas

LSIPR 50 2018: Robert Nelsen

Name: Robert Nelsen

Organisation: Arch Venture Partners

Position: Co-Founder and Managing Director

Genetic sequencing firm Illumina and Denali Therapeutics, a neurodegenerative disease-focused company, are just two companies that have benefited from investment by Arch Venture Partners, a provider of seed and early-stage venture capital to biotechnology companies.

Robert Nelsen is a co-founder and managing director of Arch Venture Partners, a spinout from the University of Chicago in 1986. He has had a noteworthy role in the early sourcing, financing and development of more than 30 companies. Nearly 20 of these companies have reached valuations exceeding $1 billion.

San Francisco-based startup Grail, which aims to invent a blood test that can detect cancer early, spun out of parent company Illumina last year and raised more than $900 million through the first close of its previously announced series B funding round, led by Arch Venture. Nelsen serves on its board of directors.

In 2016, Nelsen placed number 16 on US business magazine Forbes’ ‘Midas List’ of the top 100 venture capital investors in technology.

His investments have focused on biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, such as Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Juno Therapeutics, Vir Biotechnology and Editas.

“The biggest dreamer in biotech investing is also the best-performing healthcare investor on our list, during a time when healthcare investors did great,” Forbes explained at the time.

In January this year, US-based Celgene announced that it would acquire Juno for $9 billion to discover and develop “transformative medicines for patients with incurable blood cancers”.

Another Arch Venture success, Forbes said, was Kythera Biopharmaceuticals, which developed a drug called Kybella (deoxycholic acid), a injectable treatment to reduce fat under the chin. Kythera was sold to pharmaceutical company Allergan for $2.1 billion in June 2015.

Nelsen previously served as a trustee of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute.

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