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JDRF and PureTech Launch Groundbreaking New Fund, T1D Innovations, Designed to Fund Type 1 Therapies

Published: 10/14/13
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By Kelly Close

On Tuesday October 15, JDRF and PureTech announced the launch of T1D Innovations, an exciting 

new fund that aims to supply crucial funding for the 

development of type 1 diabetes therapies. As background, PureTech is a technology development company for start-ups in the healthcare field. JDRF has committed $5 million for T1D Innovations, and PureTech will run the fund with the help of JDRF leadership and expertise in the field of type 1 diabetes. PureTech’s David Steinberg recently explained to diaTribe in a wide-ranging interview that the partners hope to raise another $25 million in the near future to support further development (other venture funds as well as families and individuals can invest). The goal in selecting investments is to work with luminaries in the field of type 1 research to move ideas out of the laboratory and onto the road to real patients. T1D Innovations will also partner with the distinguished Joslin Diabetes Center and T1D Exchange; the two nonprofits will participate in T1D Innovation’s Scientific Advisory Board and collaborate to find and review technologies for the organization. They will also be very involved in development of the new companies that T1D Innovations works with and will provide research services and expertise. About four people will run the fund at PureTech, with lots of input from JDRF leaders, including renowned entrepreneur CEO Jeffrey Brewer. This is a quite fascinating organizational infrastructure and we look very forward to following the new fund, which is a non-profit/for-profit hybrid (profits to JDRF will be invested back into the fund while profits for PureTech will go back into the firm and its investors).

Most encouragingly, Mr. Steinberg explained that the success of T1D Innovations will be measured in terms of its impact for patients. If T1D Innovations can provide funding to, say, a dozen companies over the next five years, perhaps half of them might fail early on, while many of the rest may never get their device or medication out of clinical trials. But – and this is the really critical point – one or two of those companies likely would develop a successful, all-new therapy for type 1 diabetes, and that’s where T1D Innovations could make an enormous difference in the lives of people with type 1 diabetes. As such, the organization would embody a “high risk, high reward” mantra. While it could take tens or hundreds of millions of dollars to fully fund a potential new therapy, and with no guarantee that it would successfully make it to market, T1D Innovations plans to provide smaller investments to many different companies when they most need funding. We imagine that such funding would carry a great deal of prestige, and would help bring in other investments in these young organizations. We expect at least one agreement to be announced in the near term, although there is no official word on this. 

Bottom line, JDRF and PureTech are effectively considering investments in the entire field of type 1 research, and the influx of funds and JDRF expertise should enable the very best ideas to rise to the top. Only one success story is needed to make a significant difference in type 1 care, and T1D Innovations aims to make this possible. The launch of this fund is just the beginning of a lengthy process, and we at diaTribe look forward to updating you on where this all leads. –AW/KC

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