OrbiMed Fund to Open Local Offices

OrbiMed, the biggest biomedical venture capital fund in the world, is opening a local office in Israel. The company, which confines itself to health care and life science companies, will be in the running to run a future state-owned biotechnology fund, TheMarker has learned.

Three other foreign funds have shown interest in operating the government fund. The tender for its management closes next month.

U.S.-based OrbiMed manages a total of about $5 billion, while the state-owned fund will be about $80 million.

OrbiMed was founded in 1989. Initially it invested in publicly traded pharmaceutical companies, but in 1993 the fund began investing in private enterprises. The fund focuses on investment in developers of pharmaceuticals and medical instruments. Most of Orbimed's investments range between $5 million and $40 million, mostly in mezzanine financing.

According to IVC-Online, OrbiMed is invested in two Israeli companies: superDimension, which develops endoscopic navigational instruments used in the treatment and diagnosis of lung diseases, and Gelesis, a developer of obesity solutions.

The fund has seen two successful exits in Israel already: Given Imaging, which went public and is now trading at a market value of $442 million, and Predix Pharmaceuticals, which was purchased by Apex in 2006 for $90 million.

The Finance Ministry publicized the terms of a tender to establish a new technology fund six months ago. Under the terms, state funds are to be managed by two or three venture capital funds. The fund will be expected to use state funds and their own to leverage the amounts at their disposal by three or four-fold.