The top 25: Carole Nuechterlein, head, Roche Venture Fund

Carole Nuechterlein heads the Roche Venture Fund, the corporate venturing unit of Switzerland-based pharmaceutical company F Hoffmann-La Roche. She joined the unit when it was formed in 2001, but even after a significant time at the top of the unit, she said her challenges remain “exits and finding the diamonds in the rough”.

That challenge became a little easier last year after its portfolio company Ideaya Biosciences, a precision medicine developer, raised $50m in May in an initial public offering (IPO) on the Nasdaq Global Select Market.

The majority of the IPO proceeds – between $27m and $32m – was allocated to the phase 1/2 development of Ideaya’s lead asset, IDE196, a genetically-defined cancer therapy licensed from pharmaceutical firm Novartis.

That came roughly a year after another portfolio company antibody developer Allakos raised about $128m in a July 2018 IPO. Founded in 2012, Allakos is developing a treatment called AK002 that will address eosinophil and mast cell-related diseases. Eosinophil disorder causes cells that are responsible for releasing toxins to be overproduced, leading to inflammation of the tissue.

Earlier in February2018, Roche also agreed to acquire cancer research technology provider and portfolio company, Flatiron Health, paying $1.9bn for the remainder of the company’s shares. Roche already owned a 12.6% stake in Flatiron, meaning the acquisition valued the company at about $2.15bn.

Founded in 2012, Flatiron has developed electronic health record software configured for oncology research, as well as technology that can manage and develop cancer research data. It works with over 265 community cancer clinics and it offers access to more than two million active patient records to its users.

In 2017, Roche agreed to acquire US-based healthcare analytics provider Viewics for an undisclosed amount in November and Austria-based diabetes management technology developer MySugr for about €74m ($84m) in June. Aileron Therapeutics, a US-based cancer treatment developer, filed to raise up to $69m in its IPO in June.

AveXis, a US-based gene therapy technology developer, raised $95m for its IPO on Nasdaq in February 2016. AveXis is working on gene therapy treatments for rare and life-threatening neurological genetic diseases. Its lead product candidate, AVXS-101, is in phase 1 clinical trials for spinal muscular atrophy, the leading genetic cause of infant death.

Nuechterlein manages Roche’s Sfr500m ($530m) evergreen venture fund, which means it can reinvest in new deals the proceeds from exited portfolio companies, and so these successful IPOs and sales could boost its investment activity.

Roche Venture Fund’s recent deals included an $80m series B round for autoimmune disease treatment developer Pandion Therapeutics in April 2020, which came a month after the $110m series D funding for vaccine developer SutroVax.

The unit also led a $14.1m extension in January 2020 for cell-transplant technology developer Jasper Therapeutic’s series A round, which took its series A round to more than $49m.

Before venturing at Roche, Nuechterlein worked in the company as an attorney for a decade. She joined Roche from SangStat in Fremont, California, where she was general counsel.

She began her career working at law firm Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom in its mergers and acquisitions group. From there, she worked at Syntex/Roche in Palo Alto, California, focusing on M&A, research collaborations and licensing deals.

GCV Powerlist 2020 PDF