By Alex Halperin, Dow Jones VentureWire
Advisory firm Masa Inc. has closed on about half of a $30 million life science fund that will aim to unite capital from Japan and Korea with North American technologies, A. Sinclair Dunlop, Masa's director of new business ventures, told VentureWire.
Looking at opportunities now, Dunlop said Masa plans to make the first of its eight to 10 early stage investments in the fall. The fund is expected to make its second close in the fourth quarter, about a year after fundraising began.
With headquarters in Washington, Masa aims to take advantage of regional technology including science developed at government agencies. It will also look to for investments in life science hot spots like New England and Southern California. Dunlop plans to invest the fund over two to three years.
Dunlop said the vehicle is designed to cater to the "significant demand among corporate investors in Japan for top medical device and new biotech opportunities in the U.S." It will focus on the mid-Atlantic region and hopes to capitalize on science developed at government agencies. Masa is especially interested in medical devices for which, Dunlop said, there is a hunger in Japan.
The limited partners in the fund are Japanese and Korean corporations and financial institutions. Dunlop said that in its function as an advisory firm, Masa has already been facilitating Japanese investment in American start-ups. A venture capital fund, he said, would be the "most efficient vehicle for introducing the best of the new technology to the Japanese market."
Masa has a six person investing team in Washington and two in Tokyo.
The law firm of Morrison & Foerster L.L.P. is assisting Masa in the fundraising.