One of central Ohio’s biggest advocates of small businesses and tech startups has announced a new fund that will shape the future of health care innovation in the Buckeye State. Last month, Rev1 Ventures, a longtime partner of Ohio Third Frontier, announced the creation of the Rev1 Catalyst Fund III, a $30 million fund that will invest capital in and provide strategic services for pre-seed, seed-stage and early-stage companies in the health care space, with a specific focus on technologies from The Ohio State University and Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
“This is a continuation of a strategy of investing in life science companies, specifically spinouts from Nationwide Children’s Research Institute and Ohio State University,” CEO Tom Walker said. “This is an investment in the life science industry here in our region, and many of those opportunities we see come out of those two research institutions. Rev1 was created to support high-growth companies here in central Ohio, and Nationwide Children’s and OSU have been a partner with us in that endeavor since we launched.”
Walker said Ohio State and Nationwide are already key partners for Rev1, and already “partner together” to invest in companies even before the establishment of this fund. But with an explicit focus on that partnership and a dedicated pool of funds, Rev1 can “streamline and increase the amount of commercialization coming from those institutions while they’re investing in infrastructure to be a catalyst for new life science startups.” He said he’s excited for the trio to work together to make that possible.
“Over the course of a decade, they’ve made a big impact, and that’s where all of this commercialization opportunity comes from,” he said. “You can see our region growing, and we’ve attracted large pharma manufacturers like Amgen and you’ve seen the success of spin-out technologies such as Myonexus, which was a spin-out from Nationwide Children’s. Now you have STAQ Pharma, which is a pharmaceutical manufacturing company that we’ve invested in that’s also partnered with Children’s and others. I don’t want to say we’ve reached the high water mark here because it’s all really growing and growing very strategically. I view this fund as just another step in that strategy to grow the industry in our region.”
This kind of partnership between a trio of Columbus giants represents the collaborative nature of investment and technology in Ohio. Walker loves the cooperation he sees between every level of business in the Buckeye State, and said Rev1 and their partners work hard to foster that environment. And if huge players like these can work together to create a rising tide that lifts all boats, it will help everyone in the ecosystem.
“Our world is very much one of networking and collaboration where we’re all learning from one another,” he said. “None of these companies are isolated among themselves once you start them. You’re running into and collaborating with other entrepreneurs that are doing similar things. And at the same time, we’re all constantly striving to better the infrastructure in the region that helps these companies grow and stay here. So in the startup world, whether it’s life sciences or software, it’s very collaborative and you’re all sort of growing together.”
The overarching goals of the newly established fund include both financial impact and impact on a personal level. While the goal of boosting businesses is front-and-center, Walker emphasized the importance of the difference this kind of technology can make on real lives.
“The first two funds have attracted about $100 million in co-investment and over $450 million in exits, so we hope to continue attracting other organized venture capital, and that will impact the exits over time,” he said. “What’s interesting about the exits is that they can attract other talent and other players. And these technologies, when they are successful and developed, impact human lives in a positive way. So ultimately, you really want to see those that are successful find their way into either a clinic or a medical setting where they do impact lives.”