The most active pharma investors since 2014 are Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, and Celgene.
The pharmaceutical landscape is undergoing a fundamental shift in how drugs are discovered, developed, and commercialized. Tech giants like Google are entering the space, companies like PillPack and Capsule are disrupting the notion of a centralized pharmacy, and AI startups are working to accelerate the process of drug discovery.
In addition to these challenges, pharma corporates face the outsized costs and time commitment required of basic R&D. Consequently, big players in the industry have taken to outsourcing much of the basic science that goes into drug discovery. These companies often acquire promising startups in order to further develop their technology and bring it forward to commercialization. A few are also investing heavily in digital health, making bets across genomics, medication management, and connected devices.
We used CB Insights’ Business Social Graph to analyze where the top pharma companies are making their private market deals.
We identified the top 20 publicly traded pharma companies by market capitalization (as of 5/30/2017). The companies on our list include the following corporates and their associated venture arms.
- Abbott Laboratories, Abbott Ventures
- Abbvie, AbbVie Biotech Ventures
- Amgen, Amgen Ventures
- AstraZeneca, MedImmune Ventures
- Bristol Myers Squibb
- Eli Lilly & Co.
- GlaxoSmithKline, SR One
- Johnson & Johnson, Johnson & Johnson Innovation
- Merck & Co., Merck Global Health Innovation Fund
- Novartis, Novartis Venture Funds
- Novo Nordisk, Novo Ventures
- Pfizer, Pfizer Venture Investments
- Roche, Roche Venture Fund
- Sanofi, Sanofi-Genzyme BioVentures
Business Social Graph
Click to enlarge. Orange lines represent acquisitions. Green lines represent investments.
- So far this year, there have been 47 equity deals with participation from one of the top 20 public pharma corporates. Deals from this group fell 13% last year from 121 in 2015 to 105 in 2016 but are currently on track to pick up this year.
- The top 5 most active pharma investors since 2014 are Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, and Celgene. Novartis leads the pack with deals to 60 companies since 2014, most of which have gone through their venture arm Novartis Venture Funds.
- The largest equity deal since 2014 with participation from one of the top 20 pharma corporates is the $914M Series B of GRAIL with participation from Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Celgene. In a distant second, Verily and Sanofi took a $500M minority stake in Onduo in September 2016.
- In general, oncology diagnostics and therapeutics has been a popular area of investment within the group. A few of the largest oncology deals since 2014 with big pharma participation include the $914M Series B of GRAIL, the $474M Series F of Moderna Therapeutics, and the $320M Series A of Immunocore.
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- Novartis invests across a range of technologies including, but not limited to, telemedicine platforms, point-of-care diagnostics, oncology therapeutics, and skin care products.
- Since 2014, Novartis Venture Funds has participated in 3 or more rounds to Aerpio Therapeutics, Viamet Pharmaceuticals, eFFECTOR Therapeutics, Atlas Genetics, and Aileron Therapeutics. Aerpio is developing treatments for diabetic retinopathy; Viamet is focused on fungal diseases, oncology, and orphan diseases; eFFECTOR is working on solid tumors and lymphoma; Atlas Genetic develops a rapid diagnostic platform for infectious diseases like Chlamydia; and Aileron is advancing therapeutics that target the tumor suppressor gene p53.
- Johnson & Johnson has also developed a broad portfolio of medical devices, microbiome therapeutics, and cancer diagnostics, to name a few.
- It was one of a group of pharmaceutical backers to join GRAIL‘s $914M Series B in March 2017. They were joined by Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene, and McKesson. Since 2014, Johnson & Johnson has participated in large >$80M rounds to GRAIL, CVRx, Biocartis, and Merus.
- Merck is by far the most active pharma corporate in digital health with over 20 deals since 2014. This year, the Merck Global Health Innovation Fund has participated in the $12M Series D of the healthcare cloud computing company ClearDATA and the $30M equity round of Arcadia Healthcare Solutions, focused on data analytics for health records.
- A few startups received investment from multiple top pharma corporates. Examples include:
- CRISPR Therapeutics: Backed by Bayer, SR One (GlaxoSmithKline’s venture arm), and Celgene. Went public in 2016 valued at $556M. CRISPR Therapeutics is a gene editing company developing novel therapeutics for diseases such as beta-thalassemia, sickle cell disease, and hemophilia.
- eFFECTOR Therapeutics: Backed by Novartis Venture Funds, SR One, and Abbvie Biotech Ventures. Novartis and SR One invested in 3 rounds, beginning at Series A, while Abbvie joined in for the Series B and Series B-II. The company is developing small molecule drugs that target RNA synthesis as potential treatment for solid tumors and lymphoma.
- Mission Therapeutics: Backed by Pfizer Venture Investments, Roche Venture Fund, and SR One. Roche and SR One invested in 3 rounds, beginning at Series A, while Pfizer joined in for the Series B and Series C. The company is developing small molecule drugs that target the DNA damage pathway in order to treat cancer.
Want more data on where pharmaceutical companies are investing? Check out our private market database below.