NKF Innovation Fund
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is NKF creating the Innovation Fund?
The fact is that the current state of kidney healthcare in America is broken. 37 million Americans have kidney disease, and many will crash into kidney failure and require dialysis before they even know they have kidney disease. The kidney transplant system is failing kidney patients: The average wait time is 5 years, 13 people die each day awaiting a transplant, and yet over 6,000 kidneys are disposed of annually. Kidney disease costs Medicare $154 billion annually. Clearly, the status quo is unacceptable. Through catalyzing urgently needed innovation across the diagnostic, treatment, and transplant spectrum, the Innovation Fund seeks to disrupt the kidney health space.
Why does the NKF need to create an innovation fund?
NKF has a responsibility to bring about change. The private market is failing; only 2% of all US and EU life science investment goes towards the renal and transplant spaces. Too many promising companies fall into the “valley of death” and are unable to raise the early and mid-stage funding required to advance promising therapies through the drug and device development pipeline.
Will the NKF have an ownership stake in the companies the Fund is investing in?
NKF will negotiate agreements with companies in which it invests. These agreements may include equity positions, which would provide NKF with stock in the company. NKF may also negotiate royalty returns tied to specific products, which would be independent of an ownership position. Any returns from investments will be used to make new investments in additional companies.
What kinds of companies will the Fund invest in?
The Fund will provide support mainly to pioneering, early-stage companies to fast-track the development of transformative kidney disease treatments. Our goals are to eliminate preventable kidney disease, eliminate the transplant wait list, and ensure that dialysis patients have full, productive lives. The companies that NKF has invested in or is exploring investing in cover a wide range of products and therapies, including artificial kidneys, portable dialysis devices, infection reduction technology, xenotransplants, and rehabilitation of damaged kidneys.
Besides investment dollars, what benefits will companies receive?
Companies will be able to leverage NKF’s credibility and brand to generate even more funding, more rapidly advance promising technologies, and improve prospects for attracting later stage funding from VCs, large pharma, and biotech companies. Companies will also gain access to NKF’s unmatched expertise in regulatory pathways, health policy and reimbursement, recruitment for clinical trials, gaining patient perspectives, and access to leading scientific experts and clinicians on the front lines of kidney research and care. Using NKF’s expertise, companies will be able to better match their products with patient preferences and needs.
What benefits will donors receive?
How does this initiative align with NKF’s mission?
The Fund is a natural evolution of NKF’s work of advocating for all people affected by kidney disease. It builds on our long history of reducing barriers to innovation through scientific workshops, regulatory engagement, our patient network, and other core programs.
How will the NKF choose Fund investments?
NKF has developed a multi-pronged approach to evaluating investment opportunities. This initiative will be guided by NKF’s internal Innovation Fund team that includes staff and consultants with significant venture capital and philanthropic impact fund experience. The internal Innovation Fund Team will identify potential investments, conduct due diligence, and select investments after detailed evaluation of the company’s product, potential impact, leadership, finances, and risk level. When negotiating agreements with specific companies, NKF will be advised by counsel with deep experience negotiating similar agreements for many other leading charities. In addition, we have created a volunteer Advisory Council that includes experienced professionals from finance, venture capital and the medical field that will provide expert guidance as the program evolves and grows.
How large will each investment be?
It won’t be the same for every company. A typical investment may range from six figures and up, depending on the company’s product, risk level, potential impact, and stage of development.
Who do I contact to participate in the Fund either as a donor or as a company?