The top 25: Marc Singer, managing partner, Osage University Partners
Marc Singer joined Osage Partners, a family of venture capital funds, in 2008 to help develop and establish Osage University Partners (OUP), which invests in spinouts and university startups from 19 partner universities such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Duke University and several University of California campuses.
The firm also has 68 associate partners both in the US, such as Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre, and internationally, such as National University of Singapore, Ben Gurion University of the Negev and Mars Innovation.
Singer, who has been managing partner of OUP since 2008, joined from early-stage VC firm BEV Capital, which he co-founded in 1997 and where he was a general partner. During that time, he helped invest more than $200m in more than 40 companies. That expertise has come in handy during his now decade-long leadership of OUP, where he is currently in the process of raising a $250m third fund.
OUP’s first fund was officially launched in 2011 with $100m, though a few investments were made from 2009 to test the model. OUP I grew to 39 portfolio companies, before a second $215m fund followed in 2014 that has invested in 47 companies to date.
Recent investments by OUP include Escient Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology spinout of Johns Hopkins University, that raised a $40m series A round in May this year, and Embodied, a companion robot developer launched by a researcher from University of Southern California, which raised $22m in a series A round in July.
Singer sits on a range of boards of directors as part of his duties, including that of urban transportation analytics technology developer StreetLight Data, which most recently closed an oversubscribed $10m series C round this August backed by OUP as well as Engie New Ventures and Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners, respective investment units of energy services provider Engie and telecoms firm Deutsche Telekom.
He also sits on the board of Psikick, a developer of self-powered smart devices and that raised $16.5m in its series B round from investors including OUP and the Michigan Investment in New Technology Startups fund in 2016.
Osage is not constrained to small deals. For example, Precision BioSciences, a gene editing technology developer spun out of Duke University, began the process of raising $110m in a series B round in June this year. Underlining further that OUP will happily co-invest with corporate venturing units, Precision’s shareholders also include the investment arms of pharmaceutical firms Amgen and Baxter.
One of the more unusual deals for OUP came in August this year, when US-listed fertility treatment provider OvaScience agreed to merge with Millendo Therapeutics, an endocrine disease drug spinout of University of Michigan in an all-stock deal. Osage, already an investor in Millendo before the merger, helped put in another $30m as part of the transaction alongside pharmaceutical firm Roche subsidiary Roche Venture Fund and others, such as Innobio, managed by French state-owned investment firm BPIFrance.