Novo Holdings to set up Asia office in Singapore to focus on investments in life sciences sector

Life science investor Novo Holdings is set to open a Singapore office in August this year, and has appointed Amit Kakar as its head of Asia.
Life science investor Novo Holdings is set to open a Singapore office in August this year, and has appointed Amit Kakar as its head of Asia.PHOTO: NOVO HOLDINGS

SINGAPORE - Life science investor Novo Holdings will set up its Asia office in Singapore.

The Denmark-based company, which has US$62 billion (S$86 billion) in assets, is expected to focus on three fields in the region.

One is to make sizable investments in leading life sciences companies and to also provide expansion capital to high-growth life sciences firms and thirdly, to invest in venture stage biotech and medical technology operations.

Economic Development Board chairman Beh Swan Gin told the Straits Times on Thursday (July 2): "Novo's Asia team will be an exciting addition to our burgeoning ecosystem of healthcare innovators, entrepreneurs and ventures.

"Novo's decision also reaffirms Singapore's position as the strategic gateway to access opportunities in Asia."

Novo Holdings - the venture arm of Novo Nordisk Foundation - provides seed and venture capital to development-stage companies and takes significant ownership positions in growth and well-established ones in the life sciences sector. It also manages a portfolio of diversified financial assets.

While the company has been actively investing in Asia, the region represents a new opportunity for the life science investments teams.

"We believe that if you want to invest directly in Asia, you need to be on the ground," the company noted.

Novo said it was drawn to Singapore in part due to the talent pool and innovation in biotechnology and medical technology companies.

It declined to disclose the size of the investment here.

Novo Holdings chief executive Kasim Kutay said: "We have followed the life sciences markets in Asia closely, and the growth, the demographics and the increased focus on innovation and R&D make the region a compelling area for us to explore investment opportunities.

"The industry is young and dynamic, with an underlying investment ecosystem that is rapidly developing, and we believe that our long-term approach and partnering mindset is well suited to the region."

The team will be led by Mr Amit Kakar, the firm's newly appointed head of Asia.

Mr Kakar previously headed business development and mergers and acquisitions at Everlife Asia, which provides solutions for healthcare and research industries in South-east Asia and India.

"The prospect of bringing better healthcare through our investments is a big motivation for me, and I look forward to working with the rest of the senior management team to shape and lead the implementation of an ambitious life sciences investment strategy for Asia," he said.