Editorial: Different venture syndicates forming

For Sanaria, a US-based company working on a vaccination for malaria, a diverse syndicate offers an interesting insight into the potential for what these groups can achieve.

The rise of non-traditional venture syndicates creates opportunities, but also poses challenges as investor aims can clash.

For Sanaria, a US-based company working on a vaccination for malaria, a diverse syndicate offers an interesting insight into the potential for what these groups can achieve.

Sanaria raised $48.5m from a consortium including the government of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, along with US-based energy companies Marathon Oil Corporation, Noble Energy and Atlantic Methanol Production Company (AMPCO) to support the clinical development of the vaccine from 2015 to 2018.

The Republic of Equatorial Guinea invested through its Ministries of Health and Social Welfare and Mines, Industry and Energy alongside its industrial partners. The government invested $36.75m with the industry partners making up the remaining $11.75m.

The money from the investment will be used to fund the phase II and phase III trials of the vaccine. Phase II trials begin this year on an island in Equatorial Guinea.

The hope is the country can benefit from the vaccine, while the oil majors keep their workers healthy. That no pharmaceutical company was part of the funding indicates Stephen Hoffman, CEO of Sanaria, is looking to keep control of the company’s destiny a dozen years after founding the business from his kitchen using a $500,000 grant from the US’s National Institute of Health.

He is certainly confident in the vaccine after it won last year’s best prophylactic vaccine at the Vaccine Industry Excellence Awards, even if the general public are less certain given Sanaria raised 18% of the $250,000 it wanted to develop SporoBot, a robot to automate the vaccine production.

Preventing malaria is a clear common good and vaccines one method to aid its eradication. Creating new sources of funding and assistance to trial a company’s goods or service will be a secondary line of success for Hoffman and his team and patients but could help allow the first goal to be achieved.

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