SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Versant Ventures, a leading global healthcare venture capital firm, today announced the launch of its third biotech incubator, Highline Therapeutics, and the promotion of Carlo Rizzuto to manage the firm’s newly established New York base.
Carlo will lead investments in innovative biotech start-ups as part of Versant’s strategy to expand its operations to New York and intensify investment activities in the broader Northeast. Based in Highline Therapeutics’ office in Manhattan, Carlo will work with Versant’s team of investment professionals and entrepreneurs to leverage the region’s world-class science and establish a broad portfolio of start-ups. A New York native, Carlo recently relocated to the city from Basel, Switzerland, where he previously operated from Versant’s European headquarters.
Brad Bolzon, Versant Managing Director said, “Carlo demonstrated a unique talent for company building as part of the Basel team that established a foothold for our firm in Europe. In this new role, he will help expand Versant’s presence in the Northeast region, one of the richest sources of academic discoveries.”
Since mid-2014, Carlo has led the effort to establish Highline Therapeutics as an engine for launching multiple biotech start-ups. Partnerships have been formed with some of the leading local academic institutions and several formal programs will be announced over the coming months. Commenting on the opportunity, Carlo said, “New York City’s researchers attract a significant amount of NIH funding, yet the city receives a relatively modest portion of available biotech venture capital funding. In the broader geographic region, there is a wealth of additional top-tier universities, such as Penn, Yale, and Johns Hopkins. We are excited to partner with these institutions and build innovative start-ups together.”
In 2012, Carlo joined Versant as Operating Principal and played key roles in a number of promising investments including GenSight, Piqur, Anokion and Mosaic. Most recently, Carlo assumed the leadership role for the Anokion $760 million “build-to-buy” deal with Astellas in the field of autoimmune disease. He joined Versant from Novartis where he served in leadership roles in the drug development organization. Carlo completed his Ph.D. at Harvard University.
As part of the New York based team, Versant also added Cameron Pitt as Associate. Cameron earned his Ph.D. from the University of California, San Francisco, conducting his work in one of the premier research laboratories. He brings relevant expertise in cancer biology to the investment team. Oncology, one of the fields in which New York institutions have developed world-class programs, will be an initial focus area for the team.
Highline is the latest addition to Versant’s network of regional discovery engines, which includes Blueline Bioscience in Toronto, and Inception Sciences in San Diego, Vancouver and Montreal. Highline reflects the firm’s approach to more effectively identify breakthrough therapeutic discoveries directly from academic sources. Versant’s local incubation model has led to several successful outcomes, most recently in Quanticel Pharmaceuticals, which announced its acquisition by Celgene earlier this year. Quanticel was built from academic programs at Stanford University that were identified by Versant’s Bay Area team.
About Versant Ventures
Versant Ventures is a leading healthcare investment firm that invests across the healthcare sector and at all stages of company development, with an emphasis on the discovery and development of novel therapeutics. With $1.9 billion under management and offices in North America and Europe, Versant has built a team with deep investment, operating, and scientific expertise that enables a hands-on approach to company building. Since the firm’s founding in 1999, nearly 40 Versant companies have achieved successful acquisitions or IPOs. For more information, please visit www.versantventures.com.