How Wellcome and Gates Charities Gain Profit from Financing Biotech Startup Companies?

For the past years, Wellcome Trust Medical Charity and Bill & Melinda Gates Charity Foundation had been financing biotech startup companies.  Wellcome has recently received its approval to market a diagnostic cancer test.  This is the first product supported by the Wellcome Trust in the past two decades since it sold its pharmaceutical business to Glaxo in 1995. This led to the creation of Glaxo Wellcome which later on merged with SmithKline Beecham in 2000 and later on become as the GlaxoSmithKline.

Wellcome and Gates Charity are the leading healthcare charities in the world that finance young biotech companies so they can succeed in developing and marketing investigational drugs that targets unmet medical needs. Recently, the Gates Foundation earned an $80 million profit from selling their shares in Anacor Pharmaceuticals which is now acquired by Pfizer.  Anacor has been working on developing drugs for rare and neglected diseases.

The Gates Foundation donates $40 billion for charity making them the world’s largest charity foundation. Meanwhile, Wellcome invests 18 billion pound or $26 billion on a similar type of investment portfolio. Their generous financing support on biotech companies has accelerated the development of global medicine.

Last Friday, on May 27, Axumin, a new cancer test received a green light from the Food and Drug Administration.  This new cancer imaging test was developed by Blue Earth Diagnositc, a young startup biotech company owned by Syncona, a biotech investment arm of Wellcome Trust.

Axumin is injected as a part of PET scan to reveal recurrent prostate cancer.

Martin Murphy, Chief Executive Officer of Syncona, said that Axumins green light approval from FDA is a validation of the company’s investment approach. He said that in time, they will be able to get their profits from their charitable work.

Syncona is a major investment firm that helps young biotech companies in creating innovative products that will provide substantial benefits for their target patients. The company is also financing two biotech startups working on gene therapy for liver problems and blindness. Syncona has allotted 250 million pounds for long-term investments and they aim to achieve a massive profit that will help fund their charitable projects.

Their primary goal is to help patients meet their medical needs.  The company also wants to extend assistance to biotech startups that are struggling to raise money to fund their project.

However, the Gates Foundation has a different approach to their charity works. They utilize a “program-related investment” wherein they urged entrepreneurs and companies to continue their noble idea in pursuing the public interest first rather than focusing on making a profit.

But then, Gates Foundation is still a big winner after selling their shares in Anacor. Last November, the foundation sold 99 percent of its share for $86.7 million which is 17 times more from their initial investment of $5 million in 2013.

Gaining Massive Profit from Charity

The charitable works of Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust has helped a lot of young biotech companies to achieve their goal of developing drugs for rare diseases and unmet medical needs.  It is a breath of fresh air to find an organization that supports a smaller company not because of the potential profit that they can get but they would like to serve the common good of the people.


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