The top 25: Anja König, global head, Novartis Venture Fund

Anja König is the global head of Novartis Venture Fund (NVF), the corporate venturing unit of Switzerland-based pharmaceutical company Novartis, following the retirement of Reinhard Ambros in June 2017.

Ambros had spent almost 15 years at NVF and has been part of Global Corporate Venturing’s Powerlist for four consecutive years from 2018. König had, as managing director of NVF, been investing in Europe and Asia-Pacific, and been named as part of GCV’s 2017 Rising Stars list before stepping into the top role.

NVF’s latest investments include financing rounds for oncology therapy developer Amphista Therapeutics, T-cell receptor therapy developer TScan Therapeutics, small molecule drug developer Exo Therapeutics and molecular therapeutics developer Faze Medicines.

Cancer immunotherapy developer Catalym, cancer drug developer Rappta Therapeutics, drug development-focused digital biomarker producer Koneksa and precision cancer drug developer Novellus are also among its recent deals.

The fund’s portfolio also features genetic medicine developer Akouos, autoimmune disease drug developer Anokion and cancer drug developer Adicet Bio.

In the past year, Novartis saw multiple exits including gene therapy developer Renovacor, inflammatory disease drug developer Inflazome, mutation-driven disease treatment developer Zikani Therapeutics, immunotherapy provider Annexon Biosciences, and cancer and haematologic disease therapy developer Forma Therapeutics.

But outside of maintaining its strong investments and exit pipeline, König’s focus has been on the team and hired Michal Silverberg in November 2017, who featured on GCV’s Rising Stars roster in 2018 and 2019.

Before joining NVF in 2006, König was a US-based associate partner at management consultancy firm McKinsey for six years from 2000, where she worked with healthcare, pharmaceutical and biotech firms on both sides of the Atlantic.

König studied physics throughout her academic career – she holds a bachelor’s degree from University of Oxford, a master’s degree from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and a PhD from Cornell University.

König sits on the board of University of Zurich’s Life Sciences Fund, the evaluation panel of the Bridge Grant Proof of Concept scheme run by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Swiss Commission for Technology and Innovation, the selection committee of healthcare accelerator programme BaseLaunch and serves as a coach with the ETH (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich)’s Pioneer Labs scheme.