Nippon Life Insurance Co, the largest Japanese life insurer by revenue, announced that it has decided to invest about $100 million in Life Science Impact Program, a healthcare impact fund managed by the affiliates of private equity and venture capital investor Grove Street Advisors (GroveStreet).
The commitment will be carried out by a fund managed by Nippon Life’s subsidiary Nissay Asset Management Corporation.
In a statement, Nippon Life said the fund invests in companies seeking to generate impact mainly in the area of healthcare. Specifically, it will invest in companies that are developing new drugs and medical equipment that aim to enhance the quality of life and healthy life expectancy.
GroveStreet’s investments in the segment include antibody research and development of an early vaccine against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The fund will invest in high-quality healthcare venture capital funds, to aim for financial returns while at the same time create and measure social impact and contribute to the achievement of the United Nations’ SDGs,” Nippon Life said.
The investment comes less than three months after Nippon Life announced plans to invest 30 billion yen ($280 million) in companies that provide social and environmental issues within three years. It reportedly is looking at companies that provide solutions in fields like healthcare, food, and climate change.
The Japanese insurer actively engages in ESG investments and loans to contribute to solving environmental and social issues. Impact investment that contributes to the achievement of SDGs is one such activity.
“Through investment in this fund, we will accumulate knowledge related to measuring impact in the healthcare field together with GroveStreet, and utilize the investment in the expansion and development of our company’s impact investment,” Nippon Life said.
GroveStreet invests in venture capital and private equity funds and has a prominent historical track record of investment in healthcare venture capital funds. It has been entrusted with $9 billion of commitments by 14 investors from across the globe through 37 separate accounts since its inception in 1998.
Impact investment has reached 70 trillion yen globally, according to a Nikkei report. Japan, however, has been a slow starter in this segment but Nippon Life’s foray into impact investment could encourage other players to follow.