UK-based life sciences venture firm Merlin Biosciences is expanding its European practice into Finland by establishing an office in Helsinki.
A team headed by Niilo Santasalo, who joins Merlin from PCA Corporate Finance, will be responsible for identifying and evaluating Finnish investment opportunities.
Merlin said it has already played an active role in the Finnish biotech sector over the last few years, but aims to consolidate its expansion into the region through its new Helsinki office.
"The Finnish, industry, although young, is rapidly emerging and will benefit from the presence of an international VC such as Merlin to help build and sustain solid biotech businesses," said Mark Clement, general partner at Merlin.
"We are excited to note the emergence of several sustainable and globally competitive companies and feel this is the right time to come forward and help the industry to the critical commercial exploitation stage." he added.
According to Finnish Bioindustries, in 2001 the country's biotechnology industry included 106 small- and medium-sized companies with annual sales of €141 million and an R&D spend of €114 million. Meanwhile, the Nordic region as a whole tops the list of European countries in terms of the number of companies in the sector, ahead of Germany, the UK and France.
Merlin has invested in 26 European biotechnology companies since its formation in 1997, and the firm is currently raising its third fund, which should close this year.