RALEIGH, N.C., Oct. 28, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the RD Fund (Retinal Degeneration Fund) – the venture arm of the Foundation Fighting Blindness aimed at rapidly driving research toward preventions, treatments and cures for the entire spectrum of retinal degenerative diseases – announces fundraising efforts are underway for RD Fund 2, targeting at least $75 million in new capital via major philanthropic donations.
RD Fund 2 has the ability to lead investments and the flexibility to make follow-on investments in RD Fund 1 companies. RD Fund 2 will build on the diversity of the overall portfolio, including novel strategies based on modality, disease stage intervention, gene-specific and gene-agnostic approaches to help address as many inherited retinal diseases as possible. The primary focus of the Fund is to invest in therapeutics; however, RD Fund 2 has the ability to make investments in services and technologies that help advance the mission.
"The RD Fund plays an important role in the maturation of the IRD therapeutics field, including academic research projects ready for translation," said Rusty Kelley, PhD, MBA, senior vice president, investments and alliances of RD Fund and Foundation Fighting Blindness. "Having the ability to conceive new companies, lead their early financing with capital sources from a set of extremely motivated investors, places us in the critical role of de-risking novel technologies that enable clinical and financial returns."
To date, RD Fund 2 has raised over $40 million in committed capital, which includes anchor commitments made by Paul Manning and Gordon Gund. Thanks in part to these commitments, Opus Genetics, a recently launched gene therapy-development company conceived internally, raised a $19 million round of seed financing. Opus leverages the expertise of pioneers in ocular gene therapy to advance a wholly-owned portfolio of underserved forms of inherited blindness with an urgent patient-first priority.
"For major contributors in RD Fund 2, there will be the opportunity to be more intimately involved in the funding of highly visible activities in biotech startups and spin-outs who have the goal of accelerating the progress of treatments and cures for inherited retinal diseases," said Gordon Gund, co-founder of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, and chairman and CEO of the Gund Investment Corporation. "It is encouraging to see the RD Fund management team execute on this novel venture philanthropy model. A great example is when RD Fund invested $3 million in Vedere Bio, which was later acquired by Novartis — a committed and skilled large pharmaceutical company in our field — a meaningful return was reinvested in research projects and companies furthering the Foundation's mission."
About the RD Fund The RD Fund (Retinal Degeneration Fund) is the venture arm of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, and a leading investor in the inherited retinal disease space. It was established in 2018 to serve the Foundation's mission to rapidly drive research toward preventions, treatments and cures for the entire spectrum of blinding retinal diseases—including retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, and Usher syndrome. RD Fund focuses on mission-related investments in companies with projects nearing clinical testing. Visit RDFund.org for more information.