The firm takes a different approach to investing compared to other venture-capital funds: Arch focuses on commercializing technology developed at academic institutions and, most of the time, it says it co-founds companies with scientists. Arch’s checks range from $50,000 to hundreds of millions of dollars, depending on the type of company, says spokeswoman Danielle Cantey.
With the new fund, Arch plans to invest in companies addressing infectious disease, mental health, immunology, oncology, neurology and clinical trials, among other things.
While some venture capitalists are pulling back on investing as the economy approaches a possible recession, Arch co-founder Robert Nelsen remains bullish on opportunity in the biotech market.
“All the fundamental innovations in biotechnology are accelerating, with huge promise for new preventive, disease-modifying and even curative treatments,” he said in a statement. “Science doesn’t care what markets are doing and science moves forward.”
Arch has roots at the University of Chicago, where it was originally used to commercialize academic profits. It was spun out into its own VC firm in 1993 and today is led by Nelsen and Keith Crandell. Aside from its Chicago office, Arch also has offices in Seattle, San Francisco and Dublin, Ireland.
The firm’s recent investments include Cambridge, Mass.-based Be Biopharma, which is developing cell medicines to treat cancer and rare diseases, and Nutcracker Therapeutics, a California company developing RNA therapies with biochip-based tech.
Very few firms in Arch’s portfolio have local ties. Among them are Chicago-based Pixelexx Systems and Romeoville-based Nanophase Technologies.
News of the fund comes on the heels of data showing Chicago’s life sciences workforce is growing. The industry encompasses everything from the research and development of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology to medical devices and even food processing.
The data, published by commercial real estate services company CBRE, showed that of the nation’s top 25 life sciences markets, Chicago ranks sixth for job growth in the sector, with the number of jobs growing 31% from 10,000 in 2015 to 13,200 in 2020.
Crain’s reporter John Pletz contributed.