These are dubious times for medical device companies seeking venture investment.
ConforMIS easily tops the top ten medical device deals in the first 6 months of 2012, as compiled by the National Venture Capital Association and PricewaterhouseCoopers in their MoneyTree report (based on data from Thomson Reuters). But having raised $89 million early this year to help fuel the commercial launch and manufacturing of its new iTotal total knee replacement system, the Burlington, MA company stands alone at the top.
The next deals are relatively small-scale, ranging from $65 million to $26.3 million from the number 2 to 10 slots, respectively.
Jimmy Rosen of Intersouth Partners in Durham, NC, told FierceMedicalDevices that the numbers "seem tepid" to him on the surface. ConforMIS' funding level appropriately reflects a company that is on the verge of a commercial launch. But the reality that the money levels drop off substantially for the rest of the top 10 reflects a possible "lack of companies that meet that criteria, and that could be a good thing and a bad thing," according to Rosen, who serves on a steering committee for the NVCA medical industry coalition.
The bigger issue is overall financing for the sector. According to the NVCA/PwC report, medical devices and equipment companies attracted $700 million in 84 deals during the second quarter. That reflects an 11% increase in the number of deals from the previous quarter, but the dollar amount remained flat. Even more concerning, however, is the reality that investment in biotechnology and medical devices companies fell 9% in dollars and 6% in deals, accounting for 20% of all VC dollars invested during that quarter. That number was at 29% in 2011.
Yes, Rosen notes, "the best deals are still getting funded" and "there are still active investors seeking opportunities in the device world." But "these are some of the worst numbers we have put up in over a decade," Rosen said. "And that is disconcerting." Click here to see the top 10 VC medical device deals for the first half of 2012 >> -- Mark Hollmer (email | Twitter)