MARKETS & INVESTING | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Novo Holdings brings life sciences investment platform to Singapore

Amit Kakar appointed to be Head of Asia.

Life science investor Novo Holdings expands its geographical investment scope as it opens its first Asia office in Singapore, complementing its already extensive investment activities in Europe and the United States.

In addition, Novo Holdings has appointed Dr. Amit Kakar as Head of Asia to lead investments and partnerships across the region, focusing primarily on the markets in China, Japan, Singapore, and Southeast Asia.

In an interview with Singapore Business Review, Kakar said that they were attracted by the talent pool and the innovation in biotech and medical technology companies in Singapore. The government’s positive fostering of research and development as well as innovation in the health tech industry was also taken into consideration as it is said to help create a good foundation for investment opportunities.

Kakar sees Singapore as a “gateway to Asia” which will provide their company access to other markets. Currently, Novo Holdings said it has limited exposure in Asia out of its financial investments portfolio and indirectly via managers.

“We believe that if you want to invest directly in Asia, you need to be on the ground,” Kakar notes.

Novo Holdings expects to invest out of three of its life sciences investment areas in the region— Principal Investments, which makes sizable investments in life sciences companies, Novo Growth, which provides expansion capital to life sciences companies, and Novo Ventures, which invests in venture stage biotech and medical technology companies.

Kakar remains positive on Asia and Singapore’s biotech sector. His first point of business as he builds his Singapore team will be understanding the landscape in the region and also outlining a strategy that will be based on highly active and experienced specialised life science investors.

Novo Holdings CEO Kasim Kutay notes that the company’s long-term approach and partnering mindset is well suited in Asia. The region is said to be a compelling area to explore investment opportunities, with a young and dynamic industry, and an underlying investment ecosystem that is rapidly developing.

Kakar will report to Kasim Kutay and will start on 1 August. He was most recently head of business development and M&A at Everlife Asia and has held positions across life sciences investment organisations and corporates in China, India, and the United States.

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