Liège-based White Fund is Belgium’s newest private early stage investment fund, and is entirely dedicated to the medical device sector. White Fund currently has capital resources amounting to €20 million, with a goal of financing about ten of the most promising medtech projects in Belgium.
The medtech sector, which enables the medical world to benefit from engineering sciences, has been experiencing a boom for several years. It aims to have a positive impact on the healthcare sector, by means of instruments, software, implants and equipment that provide added value at different levels, such as diagnostic assistance, therapy solutions, facilitating medical practice and optimising the patient’s care path.
Joanna Tyrekidis and Benoit Fellin – who are investment managers at Noshaq (formerly Meusinvest) and specialise in supporting and financing technology startups – had the idea of creating White Fund after noticing that there was a demand for a fund that could support the early development stages of medtech projects.
“Medtech companies have their own life cycles and economic realities, including challenges, particularly of a regulatory nature, which must be considered at a very early stage, as soon as the project is structured,” said Tyrekidis and Fellin.
“In addition to finance, we therefore wanted to develop a project that responds more effectively to identified weaknesses, which are generally shared by these companies and at this stage of development.”
After discussing the idea with recognised entrepreneurs within the sector, they began to raise funds in October 2018. Their goal was to enlist major Belgian financial partners, as well as industry partners with access to healthcare sector experts and practitioners, in order to provide major added value to participating companies.
Twelve months later, White Fund came into being with a first closing of €20 million. Investors in the fund include Marc Nolet, SFPI-FPIM, Invest For Jobs, finance&invest.brussels, Noshaq, Ogeo Fund, Solidaris and CHU de Liège. White Fund aims to raise an additional €10 million over the next few months.
White Fund is set to invest in two to three projects per year over the next five years, with €2 million to €3 million assigned to each project across two to three rounds of financing. The geographical area of investment will be Belgium, but this does not rule out possible opportunities in neighbouring regions. The targeted organisations are ‘early-stage’ companies, which must have, as a minimum, a proof of concept for their technology and objective market traction indicators. About fifteen projects are currently being considered in the fields of medical imaging, cardiology and even the detection of respiratory problems.
White Fund truly aims to support the pre-marketing stages of projects and the launch of sales, with an exit target of 5-7 years. Investment requests will be analysed and followed up by a selection committee, which will include medtech and investment experts. This team consists of professionals who complement each other in terms of their profiles and experience.
Belgium has extremely strong expertise in medtech, with high-ranking engineers and engineering schools, high quality care, internationally renowned specialist doctors and surgeons, centres of excellence for clinical studies linked to new technologies, a substantial network of SMEs and the long-standing presence of big players within the field.
The fund’s board of directors is currently being formed and will be chaired by an independent director with significant experience in the field of healthcare.