UPMC Enterprises commits $1B investment towards life sciences

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The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s venture capital and commercialization arm will invest $1 billion over the next five years to advance promising new therapeutics, diagnostics and devices.

According to UPMC Enterprises, which is focused on solving problems in healthcare and driving innovation, its Translational Sciences team of 20-plus investment professionals is “looking globally for investments and partners that complement the scientific and commercial work already underway in Pittsburgh.”

UPMC, a $20 billion healthcare provider and insurer, has to date invested more than $800 million in data-driven digital health solutions, which it contends have resulted in a return on investment of more than $1.5 billion.

“This is a commitment that we’re going to continue for the next five years and get deeper,” says Tal Heppenstall, president of UPMC Enterprises, who made the announcement on Tuesday at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. “Digital health will actually be in addition to this investment. So, we’re going to continue to deploy capital into the digital solutions space. But, this billion-dollar investment is specifically focused on translational sciences.”

According to Heppenstall, most of the money will be funneled into “commercial ventures that are developing these products for our patients—the ability to impact patient care for some of these therapies is beyond dramatic,” adding that “you don’t often hear about other academic medical centers deploying $1 billion of their own venture capital.”

He points out that UPMC’s planned $1 billion investment includes a commitment of $200 million in funding for an immunotherapy partnership with the University of Pittsburgh.

As part of that initiative, Pitt and UPMC have created a new Immune Transplant and Therapy Center focused on novel treatments for cancer and other diseases that harness or control the body’s natural defenses. The center also focuses on transplantation.

“Over the past two years, UPMC Enterprises has formed five companies in the translational sciences sector and invested in external biotech company Werewolf Therapeutics, as well as more than 30 research projects internally,” states UPMC’s announcement. “With an initial focus on the use of immunotherapies for cancer, transplantation and diseases related to aging, the investment group has expanded its focus to include retinal and respiratory disease, autoimmune diseases, neuroinflammation and others.”

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