Downing is looking to build up its position as a healthcare and life sciences investor with the appointment of Nigel Pitchford as head of healthcare ventures.
The investment manager’s healthcare ventures team has deployed over £36m in capital across 20 businesses since 2014. Pitchford’s appointment to the newly created role “signals Downing’s strategic drive to develop a significant specialist healthcare platform to expand its retail funds alongside dedicated institutional offerings”, the company said.
Pitchford brings 25 years’ experience to Downing having previously worked at private equity firm 3i Group, venture capital fund DFJ Esprit, venture capital investor Imperial Innovations and, most recently, as CEO of mental health services provider Ieso Digital Health.
The move comes as Downing realigns its business having agreed to sell its technology ventures division to infrastructure and private equity manager Foresight, in a deal worth up to £17.8m.
Downing began life as a VCT-focused house but, in recent years, has been rapidly growing its fund managers business, helmed by Judith MacKenzie.
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‘Expanding our retail funds alongside bespoke institutional capital’
Kostas Manolis, head of private market investments at Downing, said: “We have made the strategic decision to further invest in healthcare ventures – given the strength of the market, increased investor appetite post-pandemic, as well as the social impact element that is inherent in this sector, whether that’s improving patient outcomes or access to healthcare and innovation.
“We are delighted to welcome Nigel to help drive further growth for our business. Nigel brings a wealth of additional experience and knowledge to our existing Healthcare Ventures team. He will play a key role as we look to build a significant, specialist healthcare investment platform with the aim of expanding our retail funds alongside bespoke institutional capital.”
Pitchford said: “It’s a really exciting time to be joining Downing and the healthcare ventures team. There is already a great team that has built a compelling portfolio, track record and pipeline. I’m looking forward to using my experience to support the portfolio companies and, in turn, deliver enhanced returns for investors.
“Downing has a mature platform with a range of excellent services including distribution, reporting and operations, which is ready to support significant growth for the healthcare business.”