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Don't worry, we speak : Español (Spanish), too!

Brazilian pharmaceutical giant Eurofarma debuts VC fund, Axon Ventures

Don't worry, we speak : Español (Spanish), too!

Contxto – There’s a new VC fund in the neighborhood inviting early-stage startups over for dinner. Established by Eurofarma and led by Paulo Braga, Axon Ventures is Brazil’s newest VC fund with approximately US$12 million available for early-stage ventures improving the healthcare industry. 

Not only will this make life easier for startups shopping around for Seed or Series A investments but it could help Eurofarma consolidate its regional market share. 

“The idea is that the investments are in the range of US$500,000 to US$4 million per company and that Eurofarma can participate in the board,” said Braga, Eurofarma Corporate Venture manager.

Corporate sponsorship 

Founded in 1972 in São Paulo, Eurofarma is one of Brazil’s largest and most prominent pharmaceutical corporations. With its new venture capital arm, Braga told Crunchbase News during an exclusive interview that Axon Ventures is “for technology projects with the potential to transform the healthcare sector.”

Last year, this corporation recorded around US$1.12 billion in gross income as well as maintaining approximately 6,800 employees. Present in 20 countries and all across Brazil, it offers 287 products, specializes in 30 medical areas, as well as covers 101 therapeutic classes. 

It also invested over US$66.5 million in R&D in 2018. On top of Eurofarma’s commitment to innovation, it is seeking to collaborate with scientific and academic groups still in the “embryonic” phase. The goal is to turn these activities into businesses while also providing mentoring opportunities. 

Meanwhile, Axon will be Eurofarma’s vehicle to support disruptive technology in the medical field as part of its Vision 2022. 

“Allied to the internationalization process, Vision 2022 supports that innovation and sustainability are pillars so that the company is one of the three largest pharmaceutical companies with regional capital in Latin America, consolidating its market share and leadership in medical prescription,” said Maria del Pilar Muñoz, vice president of sustainability & new business at Eurofarma. 

“Incorporating new technologies and seeking disruptive solutions that add value to the business are ways to achieve these objectives.”

Beginning of good things 

According to Braga, he expects the portfolio to showcase between 8 and 12 startups. Regarding tickets, he anticipates investments to range from US$133,000 to US$1.06 million for companies contributing to healthcare.

“In general, we are agnostic as to sector,” said Braga. “We want to look at companies that are changing the healthcare ecosystem through technology over the next 10-15 years.”

While Brazil is Axon’s primary focus, it is also considering to work with U.S. and Israeli startups. However, this would involve collaborations with other VCs. While companies need to be part of the healthcare ecosystem, the group is open to the possibilities. 

Why now?

Born 47 years ago, Eurofarma has certainly been around for a while. The ongoing surge of healthcare startups and newfound levels of VC investment certainly inspired the company to join the ecosystem. 

“Over the last couple of years, we’ve been seeing a lot of healthcare startups start to emerge here in Brazil,” said Braga. “About five to six years ago, healthtech was almost nonexistent. And now, we know of at least 300 Brazilian startups focused on the space.”

We know there’s a lot of mechanics in the healthcare system here as a whole that needs to change and are hopefully going to change. We want to be a part of that.

Paulo Braga, Axon Corporate Venture Manager

VC funding in Brazil reached a new zenith in 2018 to around US$1.3 billion. In the regional context, that’s nearly two-thirds of all VC dollar raised in Latin America. Compared to 2017, this is a 52 percent increase from the US$859 million. Even more drastic from US$279 million in 2016, that’s a 369 percent increase. 

-JA

Jacob Atkins
Jacob Atkins is a journalist specializing in Latin America. He studied journalism and international relations at American University in Washington, D.C. and has previously reported from Chile, Ecuador, Haiti and Mexico. When he isn't writing he's most likely hiking or drawing.

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