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UPDATED: The Top 15 Biotech VC firms

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Ask any biotech exec in the business of drug and device development about the funding environment these days, and you'll most likely hear the word "tough" inside of three seconds. The same theme runs strong in the venture capital community. But among the top 15 venture firms in the U.S., you'll find plenty of gung-ho partners on the ground, jumping into new rounds and often launching new companies. And now that biotechs are lining up to go public, there's a distinct sense that the flow of capital could be loosening up in the industry's favor.

To get a better sense of who the dominant players are nowadays, FierceBiotech asked the National Venture Capital Association for its list of the most active firms in 2012, ranked by total dollars invested and the number of deals completed. The NVCA responded with a roster of every venture firm doing deals, naming the operations that wished to reveal their numbers publicly.

(Editor's note: All these numbers come from the MoneyTree report released by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the NVCA based on Thomson Reuters data. The numbers combine investments in the life sciences field, with rounds for drug developers as well as medical device companies.) 

Not all the investment deals for 2012 were identified and disclosed in the chart, which is to be expected in the secretive world of venture finance. Included here, though, you'll find some of the most familiar names in the business. And a number of senior partners helpfully spelled out their venture strategies for us and some clarified their deal tally for last year as well.

Venture Firm Dollar Amt. in Millions Number of deals Based
New Enterprise Associates, Inc. $189.78 29 Menlo Park, CA
Versant Ventures, Inc. $186.87 37 Menlo Park, CA
OrbiMed Advisors LLC $136.06 21 New York City
New Leaf Venture Partners* $128 33 Menlo Park, CA
Third Rock Ventures LLC $112.76 28 Boston, MA
Domain Associates LLC $109.39 33 Princeton, NJ
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers* $88 29 Menlo Park, CA
Clarus Ventures $85. 74 9 Cambridge, MA
Flagship Ventures $67.9 18 Cambridge, MA
InterWest Partners LLC $64.69 15 Menlo Park, CA
Third Security LLC $62.5 3 Radford, VA
Canaan Partners* $59.86 21 Westport, CT
Novo A/S $55.75 13 Hellerup, Denmark
Essex Woodlands Health Ventures $54.69 18 Palo Alto, CA
Alta Partners $53.02 13 San Francisco, CA

The final picture reveals that, despite the grim talk, there's still quite a strong heartbeat in the venture financing world. While some firms have pulled in their horns, big groups like New Enterprise Associates and Third Rock Ventures have been coming back with big new funds. And the most active in the bunch are engaged in a considerable amount of new company creation. 

I'd like to thank all the partners who took the time to talk to us for this special report. The more information available to the industry, the better off we all are. Biotech needs venture funding the way the human body needs blood. Here are some of the best transfusion centers in the business. -- John Carroll (email | Twitter) | Ryan McBride (email | Twitter) | Mark Hollmer (email | Twitter) | Emily Mullin (email | Twitter)

Editor's Note: The * indicates self-reported numbers from the firms.