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Novartis Venture Fund Supports 23 Biomed, Bioinformatics Startups

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BASEL, Switzerland--Francois L'Eplattenier, chairman of the supervisory board for the Novartis Venture Fund, said he was surprised by the sheer number and remarkable quality of formal proposals the group received in 1997. From 120 proposed projects, the group selected 29 to back, 23 of which are start-up biomedical or bioinformatics companies. The fund reported providing 28 million Swiss francs in participation, loans, one-off payments, or bank guarantees, creating 150 jobs last year and a projected 250 over the next two. In accordance with the fund's initial intent to support employees whose activities are no longer part of Novartis's core business, 22 of the 23 startups it supported involve former Novartis or Ciba Specialty Chemicals employees.

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