Deerfield Management and Columbia University have launched a $130m commercialisation fund, Hudson Heights Innovation, to support the university's early-stage biomedical research.

Healthcare-focused investment firm Deerfield Management added a partnership with Columbia University to its roster of academic biomedical alliances yesterday with the launch of an up to $130m investment vehicle, Hudson Heights Innovations.

The $130m target has been described as an initial ceiling, indicating the fund, which is already the largest of its kind so far, could grow even further in future.

Columbia University is taking part through its tech transfer office, Columbia Technology Ventures. Hudson Heights Innovations will have the option to license any Columbia research backed through the program.

The vehicle will invest its budget over a ten-year period, backing a variety of drug programs, including projects targeting rare and difficult-to-treat diseases and other areas of high-need, helping promising research to attain pre-clinical and clinical validation.

Hudson Heights will begin accepting funding proposals in autumn 2019. To be eligible, applicants must have a development blueprint for securing investigational new drug (IND) status, the US regulatory licence which permits human clinical trials and inter-state transport of experimental drug candidates.

Deerfield will provide Hudson Heights-backed projects with operational and financial support, and the companies could also receive follow-on investments through the initiative once they have obtained IND approval.

Orin Herskowitz, executive director of Columbia Technology Ventures, said: “The life science inventions emerging from Columbia’s research labs are often incredibly promising, with a high potential for making a transformative impact on human health.

“However, basic scientific research needs validation in preclinical and clinical-stage development before it can make a difference in patients.

“Beyond the funding itself, the drug development, commercialisation and operational expertise provided by Hudson Heights Innovations will hopefully ensure that more of these inventions make a positive impact in society, as quickly as possible.”

Hudson Heights is the latest in an increasingly long line of partnerships Deerfield has inked with universities. They include West Loop Innovations with University of Illinois at Chicago, Bluefield Innovations with Johns Hopkins University, Ancora Innovation with Vanderbilt University, Lakeside Discovery with Northwestern University, Poseidon Innovation with University of California, San Diego and Pinnacle Hill with University of Carolina at Chapel Hill.