Today we announced the launch of two new funds totaling $500 million to build and invest in promising life sciences companies with transformative human therapeutic technologies.
The first fund, known as Opportunity 1, is $70 million and allows Westlake to invest additional Series B or later round capital into promising companies they incubated or invested in with their original fund, Westlake BioPartners 1 (WBP1). One example is an early stage biotechnology company focused on developing precision medicines for genetically defined neurological and immunological diseases.
“Since its founding in 2018, Westlake Village BioPartners has raised more than $820 million.”
The second fund, Westlake Village BioPartners 2 Fund (WBP2), is $430 million and will focus on incubating and investing in approximately 12 Series A startups or co-lead Series A rounds with other investors, and will also allow for additional Series B or later round investments in the most promising of these companies.
“Both funds allow Westlake to power into our winners and double down during the Series B or later rounds,” said Beth Seidenberg, MD, co-founding managing director of Westlake Village BioPartners. “WBP2 allows us to continue to build upon our success with WBP1, incubating promising startups with entrepreneurs that show potential to develop breakthrough medicines across a broad range of diseases using multiple modalities. With these two new funds, we will be managing more early stage venture capital solely from the greater Los Angeles area than any other firm.”
“We are rapidly moving into what we at Westlake call ‘The Golden Age of Biotechnology’ where the speed of innovation and discoveries is accelerating exponentially,” said Sean Harper, MD, co-founding managing director of Westlake Village BioPartners. “This exponential growth is presenting many opportunities to develop new medicines, and these additional funds will allow us to harness that innovation to develop therapies for serious diseases.”
Westlake has already invested in three new companies with their WBP2 fund: a gene therapy company based in San Diego, and two Los Angeles area-based companies—a seed-stage company focused on oncology and a Series A company with an initial focus on immunology and providing patients life-changing new treatment options by identifying, acquiring, and accelerating development and commercialization of promising drug candidates.
Partnering With Entrepreneurs
Westlake actively seeks out entrepreneurs and helps bring their ideas to life. “Entrepreneurs are the foundation of great companies,” said Dr. Seidenberg. “We look for founders who have a vision and passion to transform healthcare. Our job is to help build a world-class company and that takes a large effort from many people, including the VC partner. It really is a partnership.”
“Life sciences venture capital is a deeply technical profession,” Dr. Harper added. “We have the experience to understand the technical aspects of product development and building life sciences companies. We work with the entrepreneur to help build a great company, which takes deep technical and business expertise that is only gained by years of experience.”
Catalyzing the LA Biotech Hub
Westlake continues to lead the way catalyzing the burgeoning Los Angeles Biotech Hub. “Los Angeles is an emerging biotech community that is fresh and exciting, and we are seeing an explosion of new startups in this region,” said Dr. Seidenberg. “We believe technology can come from anywhere, but our preference is to build companies in Los Angeles to help build out a new ecosystem. We will invest outside of the LA area for the right opportunities and look forward to working with entrepreneurs and other life science investors.”
“Westlake’s location, focus on building biotech companies, and scale are catalyzing the burgeoning Los Angeles Biotech Hub.”
“Building viable life sciences companies require a biotech ecosystem that supports innovation, and the key ingredients that form this ecosystem—ingredients that other hubs such as the Bay Area and Boston have—are also present in greater Los Angeles,” said Dr. Harper. “The local talent pool is outstanding and talent retention is better than in a built-out hub. We are also attracting many people from outside of the area who are finding that the cost of building a company here is significantly less and the lifestyle more appealing than traditional biotech hubs.”
Westlake has been working with Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc., the first, longest-tenured, and preeminent owner, operator, and developer of life science campuses in the nation’s top innovation clusters, to build out laboratory and office space in the greater Los Angeles area. Five of the firm’s WBP1 Fund companies are in Alexandria’s new life science space for early-stage companies in Thousand Oaks, and one is soon graduating to a larger facility. Two of the three initial WBP2 Fund companies will be in the Alexandria space.
“For nearly three decades, Alexandria has successfully created and grown thriving life science ecosystems by bringing together scientific innovation, venture capital, and talent,” said Joel S. Marcus, executive chairman and founder of Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. and Alexandria Venture Investments. “We, in partnership with Westlake, are incredibly proud to be at the vanguard and heart of the emerging Greater Los Angeles life science cluster. Alexandria has built out 30,000 square feet of office and laboratory space in Thousand Oaks as part of a 130,000 square foot, three-building campus. We have purposefully designed the space with a range of operational and service amenities for high-quality early- and growth-stage life science companies.”
“We are so pleased that Westlake Village BioPartners is helping build out the greater Los Angeles Biotech Hub and bringing high-quality jobs to our region,” said Thousand Oaks 2020 Mayor Al Adam. “We look forward to partnering with Westlake and their incubator companies as they continue to grow.”
Westlake’s first fund, established in 2018, has invested in or incubated 11 companies to date, with more than half in the Los Angeles area.