Versant Ventures Strengthens Global Team to Launch New $400M Fund

Clare Ozawa moves to managing director in Versant’s sixth fund; several other appointments bolster company creation efforts

SAN FRANCISCO & NEW YORK & TORONTO & MONTREAL & VANCOUVER, British Columbia & BASEL, Switzerland--()--Versant Ventures today announced several Investment Team appointments in preparation for the launch of its newest fund.

Clare Ozawa appointed managing director, San Diego

During 2017, Clare Ozawa, Ph.D., will transition from her current role as Chief Operating Officer of Inception Sciences to Versant Managing Director, and will lead investments in San Diego and the Bay Area. Clare currently is responsible for strategic business development, operations and finance for the Inception research sites in San Diego, Vancouver and Montreal. During her tenure at Inception, she assumed leadership roles in the creation and management of six new companies launched in partnership with academic researchers and major biopharmaceutical companies including Roche, Celgene, Bayer and Shire.

Clare joined as Inception’s founding chief business officer in 2011 following her role as an investment professional at Versant, where she was involved in several successful investments including Flexion (NASDAQ:FLXN), Biotie (purchased by Acorda), and Quanticel (purchased by Celgene). She joined Versant from Novartis Pharma, where she worked in the Office of the CEO leading strategic initiatives for the Novartis Pharma Executive Committee. Previously, Clare was at McKinsey & Company where she advised clients across the biopharmaceutical sector. Clare earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biological sciences with honors and distinction from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. in neurosciences from Stanford University Medical School.

Other managing directors in Versant’s sixth fund include Brad Bolzon, Ph.D., Jerel Davis, Ph.D., Kirk Nielsen, Tom Woiwode, Ph.D., and CFO Robin Praeger.

“I am very pleased to have Clare as part of our Investment Team as a managing director. Since joining the firm in 2008 she has built an impressive track record in both operating and investment capacities. In particular, she has played a pivotal role in the design and construction of our Inception Sciences discovery engine, and helped make it the anchor of our company building strategy. It is great to see someone with these qualities advance within our organization,” said Dr. Bolzon, who is chair of the Investment Team.

Alex Mayweg appointed Venture Partner, Basel, Switzerland

Alex Mayweg, Ph.D., has been appointed Venture Partner in Basel. As part of his role on the Investment Team, Alex will oversee operations of Baseline Therapeutics, a new Versant discovery engine to be launched in Basel. Baseline will partner with leading European academics to translate their discoveries into biotech start-ups, and will announce its first series A-backed company during 2017. Alex joined Versant in 2016 from F. Hoffmann La Roche where he served as global head of chemistry. He brings to Versant deep operating capabilities, having led several successful therapeutics programs within Roche Pharma Research and Early Development.

Prior to Roche, Alex earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at Oxford University, followed by post doctorate training at Stanford University. His undergraduate degree was in chemistry from the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London.

Alex will work alongside Versant partners Guido Magni, MD, Ph.D., and Gianni Gromo, MD, Ph.D, who have been part of the Versant team for three successive funds. Since opening the Basel office, Versant has ranked among the most active European biotech investors, having backed 14 start-ups with cumulative investments of more than $1 billion from Versant, co-investors and pharma partners. These start-ups included Okairos (purchased by GlaxoSmithKline), CRISPR (NASDAQ:CRSP) and GenSight (Euronext:SIGHT).

Mary Haak-Frendscho appointed Venture Partner, Toronto, Canada

Mary Haak-Frendscho, Ph.D., has been appointed to Venture Partner based in Toronto. Mary joined Versant in 2016 as CEO of the Blueline Bioscience discovery engine based at the MaRs center in Toronto’s Discovery District. Mary brings more than 25 years of proven industry and entrepreneurial experience to support Versant’s goal of building a world-class Canadian biotech portfolio in partnership with academics and entrepreneurs throughout the country.

She currently serves on the board of directors of Versant-backed Northern Biologics based in Toronto. Mary previously served as CEO at Igenica, chairman of Compugen, president and CSO of Takeda SF USA, and held R&D leadership roles at Genentech, Abgenix and XOMA. She holds degrees from the University of Michigan, Washington University, Stony Brook University and the University of Wisconsin.

Since establishing Canadian operations, Versant has become the most active biotech start-up investor in the country, having enabled cumulative investments of more than $500 million from Versant, co-investors and pharmaceutical partners in five series A companies over the past three years, including BlueRock Therapeutics and Inception 4 (both partnered with Bayer), Northern Biologics and Inception IBD (both partnered with Celgene), and Turnstone Biologics.

Lloyd Segal appointed Entrepreneur in Residence, Montreal, Canada

Lloyd M. Segal has been appointed as Entrepreneur in Residence based in Montreal. Lloyd joined Versant in 2016 to bolster company creation activities and the firm’s presence in Quebec, Canada, and the broader Northeast. He brings both operating and investment experience to the Versant team, having served as founder and CEO of several successful biotechnology start-ups including Advanced Bioconcept and Caprion Pharmaceuticals, and having been a Managing Partner with Persistence Capital Partners, Canada’s leading institutional healthcare private equity investor.

Lloyd is Chairman of LMC Diabetes & Endocrinology, North America’s largest network of medical endocrinology centers. Previously, Lloyd was a consultant with McKinsey & Company, and holds a BA from Brandeis University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School. During 2017, he will assume leadership of a new Canada-based series A oncology start-up backed by Versant.

Rahul Ballal appointed Entrepreneur in Residence, Boston

Rahul Ballal, Ph.D., has been appointed as Entrepreneur in Residence based in Boston. Rahul joined Versant in 2016 to strengthen the firm’s access to the major academic centers in the Boston area. Along with Versant’s New York-based team led by partner Carlo Rizzuto, Ph.D., Rahul has helped create a broader presence for Versant in the Northeast. He also currently serves as Chief Business Officer at Versant-backed Northern Biologics. Prior to Versant and Northern, Rahul was VP of business development at Flexion where he led the company through several key transactions. Prior to Flexion, he ran business development at the Broad Institute, where he liaised with entrepreneurs and investors to transfer intellectual property and technology for several biotech start-ups.

Rahul started his career in Silicon Valley as founder and CEO of Redmind, a venture-backed data analytics startup that was acquired in 2002. He earned a Ph.D. in cancer biology from Georgetown School of Medicine, an MS in bioinformatics from Johns Hopkins, and a BA from Brown University.

Versant expects to formally begin investing from Fund VI during the first quarter of 2017. The new portfolio will include a blend of Versant-built entities, and also investments into innovative companies with more traditional venture models.

“We are very fortunate to name Alex, Mary, Lloyd and Rahul as part of the Versant team, and feel confident that their diverse skills, experience and geographic presence will strengthen our ability to source new scientific discoveries and build another portfolio of the highest quality investments,” said Dr. Bolzon.

About Versant Ventures

Versant Ventures is a leading global healthcare investment firm committed to helping exceptional entrepreneurs build the next generation of great healthcare companies. The firm invests across the healthcare sector and at all stages of company development, with an emphasis on the discovery and development of novel therapeutics. With $2.3 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, more than 65 Versant companies have achieved successful acquisitions or IPOs. For more information, please visit


Versant Ventures
Steve Edelson, 415-801-8088


Versant Ventures
Steve Edelson, 415-801-8088