The Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF) is the world’s largest family of specialized venture capital funds that invests exclusively in companies developing or enabling novel therapeutics for dementia, managed by SV Health Investors. Dementias including Alzheimer’s Disease are arguably the largest unmet medical need with over 55m patients worldwide. With more than $475m raised for this strategy, and offices in London and Boston, DDF capitalizes on global investment opportunities to fulfill its dual mandate of delivering measurable impact and generating significant financial returns. Utilizing its network of venture partners, entrepreneurs, leading scientists, and strategic partners, DDF invests in and creates new biotech companies and provides thought leadership in the field.
DDF is enabled by its limited partners including major pharmaceutical companies (Biogen, Bristol Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly and Co., GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Otsuka (Astex), Pfizer and Takeda), along with AARP, Aegon, Bill Gates, British Patient Capital, NFL Players Association, Quest Diagnostics, UnitedHealth Group, and the non-profits Alzheimer’s Research UK and LifeArc.
We seek companies led by bold entrepreneurs, across the full spectrum of company and asset stage opportunities. Where we do not see others leading the way to create companies informed by cutting edge science that can make a difference to dementia patients, we will build those companies ourselves, assisted by our bench of experienced entrepreneurs and company creators.
Established in 2015, the Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF) saw its final close at £250 million in 2018 making the DDF the world’s largest venture capital fund focused on discovering and developing novel disease-modifying therapeutics for all forms of dementia. Seven leading pharmaceutical companies – Biogen, Eli Lilly and Company, GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Otsuka (Astex), Pfizer and Takeda – along with AARP, Aegon, Bill Gates, British Patient Capital, NFL Players Association, Quest Diagnostics, UnitedHealth Group, the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care, and the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK (among others) have invested in the DDF.
Advised by SV Health Investors (SV), a leading life sciences venture capital and growth equity firm, the investment and strategic support the DDF can provide is unrivalled. SV has been investing in biotech companies for over 25 years and brings a proven track record of identifying early-stage research opportunities and supporting their development into novel medicines.
The DDF has a mandate to interrogate novel hypotheses and expand the breadth of targets and mechanisms in development for dementia therapies over the life of the fund. This mandate enables the DDF to invest in truly novel, early stage projects starting from target identification onwards to explore novel biological insights for translation into disease modifying drugs.
The Impact of Dementia
The challenge posed by dementia is enormous. As the average age of the population grows, dementia is one of the biggest global health threats we face, and the challenge is growing.
Worldwide, around 50 million people are affected by dementia and every year there are nearly 10 million new cases. According to the World Health Organization, the total number of people with dementia is projected to reach 82 million in 2030 and 152 million in 2050. These demographics include not only AD, but other dementias such as PDD, FTD, ALS and HD.
Dementia is a cruel disease that robs people of their abilities, personality and dignity, creating a significant burden for families and society. Contributing to this burden is the lack of effective treatments for people with dementia. Finding ways to treat this condition is critical but has, so far, proven extremely difficult due to the complexity of the origin and manifestation. As a result, there are currently no existing therapies that have a meaningful impact on the downward progression of dementia symptoms or the disease.
However, the historic difficulty of developing treatments for dementia is not a reason to give up, but a reason to try harder. Scientists are learning from adjacent fields, such as the recent advances in immuno-oncology, and innovative research is opening-up new opportunities beyond the well explored scientific hypotheses.