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Merck Serono Launches Strategic Venture Capital Fund

- New Venture Capital Fund Will Invest in Biotech Start-up Companies Focused on Merck Serono's Core Therapeutic Areas

GENEVA, March 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Merck Serono, a division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, announced today the formation of 'Merck Serono Ventures', a strategic, corporate venture capital fund to invest in emerging biotechnology companies. The fund will support biotech start-up companies that have the potential to provide innovative products in Merck Serono's core therapeutic areas, in particular in Neurodegenerative Diseases, Oncology and Autoimmune & Inflammatory Diseases. 'Merck Serono Ventures' also will target companies developing innovative technologies that could enable the discovery and development of new products in Merck Serono's core therapeutic areas.

"Biotech start-up companies are an important element in scientific innovation," said Bernhard Kirschbaum, Executive Vice President of Research & Development at Merck Serono. "Merck Serono's venture capital fund will provide the opportunity to support scientific excellence in our core fields of interest and provide start-up companies with the opportunity to interact early on with our organization."

"The creation of a venture capital fund underlines our commitment to be Best Partner for biotech entrepreneurs and their investors," said Vincent Aurentz, Executive Vice President of Portfolio Development at Merck Serono. "This activity complements our toolkit of collaborative approaches to build a high-quality portfolio with our partners."

'Merck Serono Ventures' has an initial commitment to invest up to EUR 40 million during the next five years. A key component of Merck Serono's strategy to be recognized as the 'Best Partner' in the biopharmaceutical industry, 'Merck Serono Ventures' will be included in the company's Portfolio Development function and closely linked to the Research & Development organization.

Companies wishing to submit proposals or receive additional information can contact 'Merck Serono Ventures' at:

About Merck Serono

Merck Serono is the division for innovative prescription pharmaceuticals of Merck, a global pharmaceutical and chemical group. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, Merck Serono discovers, develops, manufactures and markets innovative small molecules and biopharmaceuticals to help patients with unmet medical needs. Its North American business operates in the United States and Canada as EMD Serono.

Merck Serono has leading brands serving patients with cancer (Erbitux(R), cetuximab), multiple sclerosis (Rebif(R), interferon beta-1a), infertility (Gonal-f(R), follitropin alfa), endocrine and cardiometabolic disorders (Glucophage(R), metformin); (Concor(R), bisoprolol); (Euthyrox(R), levothyroxine); (Saizen(R) and Serostim(R), somatropin). Not all products are available in all markets.

With an annual R&D expenditure of around EUR 1bn, Merck Serono is committed to growing its business in specialist-focused therapeutic areas including neurodegenerative diseases, oncology, fertility and endocrinology, as well as new areas potentially arising out of research and development in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

About Merck

Merck is a global pharmaceutical and chemical company with total revenues of EUR 7.6 billion in 2008, a history that began in 1668, and a future shaped by 32,800 employees in 59 countries. Its success is characterized by innovations from entrepreneurial employees. Merck's operating activities come under the umbrella of Merck KGaA, in which the Merck family holds an approximately 70% interest and free shareholders own the remaining approximately 30%. In 1917 the U.S. subsidiary Merck & Co. was expropriated and has been an independent company ever since.

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SOURCE Merck Serono
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