BioWorld International Correspondent

One of Sweden's most experienced biotechnology industry executives is quitting his post in order to take on a new role as a venture capitalist.

Jonas Frick has been CEO of Huddinge-based Medivir AB for the past six years. Six months from now, he will become a senior partner of Scandinavian Life Science Ventures, a specialist fund with SEK2 billion (US$212 million) under management. Medivir is searching for a successor.

Frick joined Medivir in 1996 to steer the company through an initial public offering that raised SEK143 million. "The financial markets have always fascinated me," he told BioWorld International. "I've never worked in the markets - I've worked with the markets."

Since 1996, Medivir has grown into one of Sweden's largest and most successful biotechnology firms, and has more than 220 employees. It has four projects in clinical development and expects to introduce its first product in 2005. "We have been in business for 13 and a half years, and we have actually been profitable for nine and a half of those," Frick said.

Scandinavian Life Science Ventures was formed earlier this year through a merger between the life sciences investment arm of the state-controlled pension fund Sixth AP Fund and Medicon Valley Capital, which is backed by Den Danske Bank of Copenhagen, Denmark. Its portfolio of investments includes the Stockholm-based stem cell therapy firm NeuroNova AB; therapeutic antibody specialist Symphogen A/S, of Copenhagen; and ion channel screening specialist Sophion Bioscience A/S, of Ballerup, Denmark.

The fund still has some SEK1.2 billion available for investment, Frick said, but it is likely to grow even larger through merging with additional funds. "There will be more added in the future," he said.