The Wellcome Trust’s board of governors has approved the creation of a new business that will invest in emerging businesses and technologies in the healthcare and life sciences sectors.
The business's initial capital will be $317 million, drawn from the Wellcome Trust's endowment. The business is currently operating under the working title Project Sigma, and a name and brand identity will be announced shortly.
Sigma will be a directly owned and managed business that will seek to deliver attractive returns on the capital it invests. It will provide financial resources with which to advance the Wellcome Trust's vision of achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health by supporting the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities.
"The Wellcome Trust is known as an investor that takes a long-term view. Sigma will extend this successful approach to direct investments in emerging healthcare technologies, to give small and medium-sized companies the support they require to fulfill their potential,” said Sir Mark Walport, director, Wellcome Trust.
Sigma will also enable Wellcome Trust to take and retain ownership positions in the companies. It will be able to contribute proactively to their development over the long term, for example by bringing together complementary expertise from different companies and scientific fields.
Although Sigma has the primary goal of generating excellent returns for the Wellcome Trust, its investments will also provide emerging businesses in the healthcare sector with a valuable new source of funding and guidance. This will help them to turn exciting advances in the life sciences into diagnostics and therapies that contribute to improved patient care.
Sigma will be headed by Nigel Keen as chairman and Martin Murphy as CEO. Wellcome Trust is in the final stages of closing agreements for operation of the Sigma business.