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How The Column Group Invests in Medicine

Who Is The Column Group: a Science-Driven Venture Capital Firm

Technological advancements are often fueled by venture capital, making the venture capital industry a key player in bringing innovation to market and improving people’s lives.

This can be especially true in the medical industry, where new targeted therapies and more effective medicines needed to meet the unmet medical demands of patients suffering from life-threatening diseases cost huge sums of money to develop.

The Column Group is one such science-driven venture capital firm that is committed to providing financial and operational resources for the development of early-stage drug discovery companies. 

Most of its investments are in pharma, life sciences, and biotechnology companies that have unique scientific platforms for drug development and deliver multiple breakthrough therapeutics.

The Column Group was founded by Adriana Tajonar and Peter Svennilson in 2006 in San Francisco, California, United States. So far the firm has made around 98 investments, of which 16 are diversity investments and 34 are lead investments. 

The company has had 18 exits, including prominent companies such as ORIC Pharmaceuticals, Arcus Biosciences, and Gritstone Oncology. 

In April 2020, the Column Group successfully launched its debut crossover fund, with an oversubscribed amount of $824 million. The TCG crossover fund, abbreviated to TCGX, was planned to be invested in private and public drug development companies. Currently, The Column Group firm has $2.2 billion in assets under management.

The firm’s approach is not to build companies to exit but to develop fundamentally strong healthcare companies from the ground up, based on their great science and potential to create a robust pipeline.

In this article, we will cover the team managing The Column Group organization, the portfolio companies of the firm, and the major life science areas where they operate.

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The Column Group Companies & Ventures 

The Column Group invests  in early- and late-stage drug discovery ventures, participating in  seed, Series A, Series b, Series C, and D rounds, as well as private equity rounds. The five private funds managed by The Column Group are: The Column Group LP, The Column Group II Lp, The Column Group III LP, The Column Group IIIa LP, and Ponoi Capital LP.

With its financial, scientific, and operational expertise, it builds startups and supports enthusiastic and innovative entrepreneurs to work for the advancement and betterment of human health.

Below is a brief on some of the portfolio companies of The Column Group.

Kallyope

Kallyope is a biotech company developing innovative therapeutics using the potential of gut-brain connections. The company combines high-throughput technologies, such as neural imaging, computational biology, sequencing, cellular and molecular biology, and human genetics, with their expertise in drug discovery to develop transformational therapeutics.

Plexim

Plexim is a next-generation targeted protein degradation (TPD) company. It uses its proprietary high-throughput cell-based screening (uHTS) technology platform to identify E3 ligase, which modulates small molecules, and harness its power to treat neurodegenerative disorders and cancers.

Circle Pharma

Circle Pharma develops macrocyclic peptide therapeutics against critical clinical targets by using a computational structure-based design that combines all three pillars of science: physics, chemistry, and biology. A major focus of their work is on intracellular protein-protein interactions that are key events of oncology pathways.

Atavistik Bio

Atavistik Bio is a preclinical stage biotechnology company. The company’s focused area is the development of first-in-class drug compounds by identifying and harnessing the power of allosteric small molecule and protein interactions that occur within metabolic diseases and oncology.

Cajal Neuroscience

Cajal Neuroscience is a drug discovery company focused on creating innovative therapeutic solutions for neurodegenerative diseases. Their research is based on the pioneering work of Nobel laureate Santiago Ramón y Cajal, who enlightened people about the complexity of the brain. 

Casma Therapeutics

Another drug discovery company, Casma Therapeutics is focused on developing therapeutics to treat both broad and rare genetic illnesses.

It utilizes the Autophagy/lysosome pathway, involved in maintaining cellular homeostasis, to clear out disease-causing targets such as dysfunctional cellular organelles, invading bacteria or viruses, aggregated proteins, and large signaling complexes.

The Column Group Team

The Column Group has a diverse group of professionals with varied experience in creating, operating, and funding biotechnology and Life Science companies in drug discovery areas. 

The three leaders of the venture capital firm are:

Peter Svennilson

Peter Svennilson is the founder and one of the managing partners of The Column Group. He holds around 35 years of experience in venture capital and finance. At The Column Group, he also serves as the board of directors of Carmot Therapeutics.

David V. Goeddel, Ph.D

David V. Goeddel is the managing partner at The Column Group where he also serves as the board of directors of Hexagon Bio (Chairman) and Tenaya Therapeutics, and a member of the scientific advisory board and board of directors of NGM Biopharmaceuticals and A2 Biotherapeutics. 

He was the first scientist hired by Genentech and has done many pioneering works in the expression of human proteins and gene cloning.

Tim Kutzkey, Ph.D

Since his joining in 2007 as one of the managing partners at The Column Group, Tim Kutzkey has contributed to building a dozen of the firm’s portfolio companies by participating in their formation and management.

The Column Group Scientific Fields

The Column Group has investment interests in the therapeutics, clinical, and biotech fields, with a focused developmental interest in drug discovery. 

Below is a list of different life science areas in which the portfolio companies of The Column Group operate. 

Therapeutics

The Column Groups’ portfolio companies in developing therapeutics are:

  • Casma Therapeutics
  • Remix Therapeutics
  • Accent Therapeutics
  • Synthekine
  • Tenaya Therapeutics
  • Kallyope
  • Carmot Therapeutics
  • Immune Design

Drug Development

The companies focused primarily on drug development include:

  • Cajal Neuroscience
  • Surrozen
  • eFFECTOR Therapeutics
  • Exonics Therapeutics
  • Peloton Therapeutics

Pharmaceuticals

The pharmaceutical companies focused on making discoveries in medicine and biotech include:

  • Circle Pharma
  • Eikon Therapeutics
  • Escient Pharmaceuticals
  • Plexium, 
  • RAPT Therapeutics
  • ORIC Pharmaceuticals
  • NGM Bio
  • Aragon Pharmaceuticals
  • Flexus Biosciences
  • Seragon Pharmaceuticals

Biotech

The Column Group’s portfolio companies working in the Biotech area are:

  • Atavistik Bio
  • Hexagon Bio
  • A2 Biotherapeutics
  • Nura Bio
  • Revolution Medicines
  • Ribon Therapeutics
  • Neurona Therapeutics
  • Nurix, Arcus Biosciences
  • Constellation Pharmaceuticals
  • Gritstone bio

For more information on the Column Group, including its team, investments, portfolio companies, visit www.thecolumngroup.com.

Upgrade Your Lab by Leasing  Equipment with Excedr

The Column Group is a venture capital firm focused on investing in a variety of seed-, early-, or late-stage life science startups. The firm is committed to accelerating the discovery and development of drugs and therapies, especially for critical diseases with unmet medical needs.

The company has $2.2 billion assets under management and has made around 98 investments, with 18 exits. It is based in San Francisco, and is currently led by Peter Svennilson, Tim Kutzkey, and David V. Goeddel.

It has 34 lead investments including companies like Casma Therapeutics, Revolution Medicine, RAPT Therapeutics, and ORIC.

Securing an investment from a firm like The Column Group is challenging. The firm likely sees hundreds of applications yearly, and presumably only ends up choosing a few each year. As a biotech entrepreneur, you’re required to provide a significant amount of data alongside your business plans and goals, which can be difficult to collect if your business is in its early days. It can be daunting to fundraise as a biotech company because developing a drug is not only a lengthy endeavor, it’s extremely costly as well.

Therefore, companies with transformative ideas, but limited budgets, have to figure out how to generate  validated data to show investors the vision and growth of their idea in order to increase their budget. However, for researchers and entrepreneurs who are just starting out, generating  data requires setting up a lab and procuring high-performance equipment, which might seem impossible to acquire with a limited budget. 

Excedr’s leasing solution can be one of the best solutions for such situations. Our program is affordable, flexible, and designed to be utilized by any company, whether a startup, middle market, or enterprise company.  

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