The Top 25: #18 Prem Tumkosit, Merck Global Health Innovation Fund

Prem Tumkosit is an investment principal at the Merck Global Health Innovation Fund, the digital health investment arm of US-based drugs group Merck & Company, responsible for early-stage investments with a focus on oncology and an area dubbed “real-world evidence”, which seeks to understand the outcomes of medical practice.

Having worked with the fund for five years, Tumkosit came on board officially as a principal in 2017. William Taranto, head of the fund, said: “He has worked across the portfolio of over 35 health investments and now leads our efforts in early-stage venture investments in oncology and real-world evidence. He comes to the fund with experience in strategy consulting at Accenture and investment banking at Credit Suisse and holds a BA from University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Yale University.

“In his first year at the fund, Prem hit the ground running, leading our investment in Strata Oncology, a next-generation precision medicine company that aims to accelerate clinical research and put the tools of precision medicine into the hands of every patient and oncologist.

“Given his background, Prem has been valuable in helping companies across our portfolio explore and evaluate inorganic and organic growth opportunities. In addition to a board seat at Strata Oncology, Prem is our board appointee for Ayogo Health, a patient behaviour change company. Prem has ad hoc board-level and committee responsibilities for Exostar and Prognos, closely working with the companies on significant corporate matters.

“Prem distinguishes himself by being a strong collaborator across many disparate areas of Merck. He works extensively with our animal health division to help support the start of their ventures group and advises them on a number of active transactions. With our IT innovation group, Prem has worked to develop and incubate internal innovation programs that may be spun out of the organisation, and has collaborated to develop a strategy for Merck to capitalise on its large and growing portfolio of intellectual property. He also lends his venture experience to our not-for-profit Merck for Mothers initiative, which seeks to create solutions to increase and expand women’s access to healthcare and to end maternal mortality.

“With external parties, Prem has begun to develop strategic relationships with large healthcare organisations that will be critical for the fund to accelerate its portfolio and reach its next stage of growth. These organisations include domestic and international leaders in healthcare that are at the forefront of their fields.

“Even at this early stage in his career, Prem has shown himself to be a Rising Star with his demonstrated capabilities in venture investing, ability to add value through board responsibilities and especially in his efforts to build collaboration both internal and external to the venture group to extend the reach and influence beyond corporate venturing alone.”

Tumkosit added: “CVC really stretches you in two primary ways – thinking about strategic collaboration to the benefit of the parent company and finding ways to grow the pie for the portfolio company. Healthcare has been fundamentally transforming and the whole industry needs to think about how to grow for all stakeholders including patients.”