Investing for Health Security: The First Year of BARDA Ventures

September 22, 2022

Investing for Health Security: The First Year of BARDA Ventures Photograph
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Combatting complex and evolving health security threats, including future pandemics, will require supporting today’s emerging startups developing tomorrow’s next-generation technologies. New investment tools are needed to better coordinate public and private funding and accelerate commercialization.

We established BARDA Ventures in June 2021 to do just this. Through BARDA Ventures, we launched a 10-year public-private partnership between our Division of Research, Innovation, and Ventures (DRIVe) and the nonprofit organization Global Health Investment Corporation (GHIC) to accelerate the development of medical countermeasures that address gaps in health security as well as meet commercial market needs.

So far, BARDA Ventures has awarded GHIC $85 million for use as venture capital investments in companies developing technologies which have the potential not only to improve our nation’s preparedness and response to public health emergencies, but also to be commercially successful. GHIC has already completed several investments, including: 

  • Biolinq, a medical technology company located in San Diego, California, is developing a biosensing platform based on its proprietary micro-array technology. The platform could enable a variety of wearable solutions that are used to detect and measure different analytes from within the dermal layer of the skin. Their initial product, which is focused on glucose monitoring, is currently in clinical trials.
  • Endpoint Health, a biotechnology company in Palo Alto, California, is focused on precision immunology for high-burden chronic and critical illnesses, including sepsis. Endpoint Health is working to develop and deliver precision therapeutics by linking the endotyping of patients with a novel gene panel assay and treatment using corresponding host-targeting therapeutic candidates. 
  • Monod Bio, a seed stage biotechnology company, located in Seattle, Washington, is developing novel de novo protein biosensors. The company uses protein engineering and design to bring multiple components of standard diagnostic detection and amplification chemistry into one single protein construct, which offers a pathway to higher sensitivity and lower cost assays across multiple diagnostic classes. Monod’s biosensor technologies have been described in several core Nature papers, and Monod has published key in vitro proof-of-concept experiments demonstrating the measurement of a variety of protein analytes, including botulinum toxin, the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, and more. 

The BARDA Ventures-GHIC partnership allows BARDA to provide up to $500 million in funding for GHIC to expand its investment portfolio to fill critical gaps in emergency response, including digital and analytical health tools, novel diagnostic modalities, drug and vaccine delivery platforms, biomanufacturing innovation, transformative care delivery models and others. This BARDA Ventures-GHIC partnership is an important tool to transform our medical defenses and improve situational awareness, two goals in the American Pandemic Preparedness Plan. This effort also aligns to “Goal 3: Partnerships” in BARDA’s Strategic Plan for 2022-2026, which includes fostering novel partnerships that stimulate innovation in medical countermeasure development. 

“To better prepare for future health emergencies,” says BARDA DRIVe Director Sandeep Patel, Ph.D., “we need to invest in and nurture successful small companies today so they can be ready when needed to respond tomorrow. This is why we created BARDA Ventures and why we partnered with GHIC.”  

“GHIC’s partnership with BARDA Ventures is a novel public-private collaboration,” said Labeeb Abboud, CEO and Chairman of GHIC, “Investing in early-stage technologies is critical for building a robust medical countermeasure portfolio, and the funding from BARDA enables GHIC to support transformative companies developing these capabilities across the biotechnology and healthcare landscape.” 

To advance the partnership’s goals, GHIC plans to mobilize additional private capital to be invested alongside funding provided by BARDA Ventures. With the additional funding, GHIC will continue to grow and diversify this important investment portfolio. 

Supporting novel partnerships between the federal government and innovators and entrepreneurs – and driving the reimagining of typical approaches to development and acquisitions – helps the U.S. build a flexible portfolio of next-generation medical countermeasures. Together, these investments can ensure that in the event of a public health emergency, our nation has the vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and other technologies needed to save lives. 

ABOUT BARDA Ventures:

BARDA and GHIC launched a partnership to accelerate the development and introduction of technologies and medical products to respond to or prevent global public health emergencies and other health security threats. Leveraging U.S. government funding, as well as BARDA’s scientific, technical, clinical, and regulatory expertise and networks, GHIC employs venture capital investment practices to foster and accelerate the development of medical countermeasures (MCMs) and related technologies. Through this partnership, BARDA intends to provide GHIC with up to $500 million in funding over ten years. GHIC will raise matching capital from other investors across the public, philanthropic and private sectors to advance transformative technologies to the marketplace and strengthen global health security. As GHIC’s portfolio companies generate investment returns, GHIC will reinvest the proceeds from BARDA’s investment capital into further investments to generate additional, long-term mission impact. Additionally, GHIC will seek to foster and support the ecosystem of innovation for technologies relevant to pandemic preparedness. The BARDA Ventures partnership with GHIC is supported through BARDA’s Division of Research, Innovation, and Ventures (DRIVe). More information is available at https://drive.hhs.gov/ventures.html.

Last Updated: September 22, 2022

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