Amid the exhaustive meet-and-greet opportunities available at the 2013 JP Morgan conference, which took place in San Francisco earlier this week, we met with Jens Eckstein, who joined SR One as its latest president slightly more than a year ago. SR One, as most IV Blog readers know, is the corporate venture arm of GlaxoSmithKline, and one of the oldest corporate venture funds in the industry. In an era in which such funds are assuming an ever-more important role in early-stage funding of innovative biotech companies, SROne’s priorities and strategic direction should be of great interest.
GSK has set broad parameters for SR One, with few restrictions; the firm invests with an eye on "the future of pharma in general," not GSK, Eckstein says. GSK has never bought an SR One investment, and the firm steps aside if it sells one of its portfolio companies. He adds that the fund's priority is early-stage innovation, with innovation defined broadly as “anything that changes the way medicine is done today.” That said, as SR One’s interests move "earlier and earlier” up the value chain, the evergreen funding provided by the corporate parent eliminates funding cycles and gives the venture firm a huge advantage over independent competitors.