Russian Fund Steps up Investments in Innovative Biotechs
By Alla Katsnelson
An agreement struck between a Russian fund and two US-based biotech startups is the latest example of Russia’s desire to court Western biotech innovators. On October 27, the Moscow-based Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies (RUSNANO) fund invested $25 million each in BIND Biosciences, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Selecta Biosciences of Watertown, Massachusetts. As part of the deal, the two US nanobiotech firms will invest $22.25 million from new and current investors, and establish subsidiary facilities in Russia. The agreements enable BIND and Selecta to conduct drug development in Russia as well as gain a foothold in the Russian market. “I completely saw the double opportunity,” says Selecta CEO Werner Cautreels. Lack of experience in taking products to market and bureaucratic holdups have kept foreign firms from engaging with Russia. But some organizational reforms geared towards helping the sector prosper are starting to build confidence, at a time when access to the Russian clinic trial network is proving attractive to both Western biotechs and big pharma.