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Corporate Venture's Adventures in Europe

Executive Summary

A few of Europe's mid-sized drug companies are trying to exploit the advantages of venture investing through in-house venture funds. Success, so far, has been elusive.

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Corporate Venture Capital's Complex Agenda

Several forces--rapid technological obsolescence, the impact of information technology on health care, merger integrations, and the need for double digit revenue growth--have caused increasing numbers of large pharmaceutical and medical device companies to create new corporate venture capital groups. But compared to traditional VC firms, whose only goal is to make money for limited partners, corporate VCs have a heavy agenda. They must choose portfolio companies while balancing often-competing goals of strategic benefit and financial return.

A Free--or Freer--Hand in Corporate VC

If pure-play pharmaceutical businesses, with resulting de-mergers and spin-offs as the tools of choice, is the new name of the health care game, Novo Nordisk is becoming a master. The recent reorganization of the Danish pharmaceutical company gives each of its separate businesses the operating freedom to do what it does best. It creates perhaps the most unusual corporate venture capital group in the industry.

Altana's Non-Venture Fund

Altana AG has set up an investment fund which will focus on deals to support its pharmaceuetical business (Byk Gulden) by making technology-based investments through deals with biotech companies.

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