Most new drug companies start small, with few staff members and little money. So in exchange for equity in their company, biotechs can raise much-needed cash from venture funds looking to invest in a technology early in order to earn a big pay-off down the road. Experienced individuals from the venture capital firms usually play a key role making decision and guiding the new company through the development process. 

Venture capital funds will, at various stages, provide fresh infusions of cash if a biotech's program shows promise and continues to move through the clinic without hitting any major speed bumps. Ideally, the drugmaker will exit when the it's in a position to demand a premium price. Promising Phase II or, better yet, Phase III data could tempt a larger company to make a pricy buyout offer. Alternately, some developers attempt to raise money by filing an IPO. This is a gamble at best. While some high-flying developers like Pacific Biosciences have had success on the open market in recent months, investors still lack an appetite for small developers with no drugs in the market and the risk of an FDA delay or rejection looming in the future.

In 2010 biotech venture capital investing began to recover from its 2009 low, growing three percent in the number of dollars raised and eight percent in the number of deals which were struck. That represents a significant bounce-back from 2009, which saw biotech investing plummet 19 percent during the worst of the economic crisis. The industry dropped to second place overall behind software, with $3.7 billion going into 460 deals.


Biotech Venture Capital

Latest Headlines

Latest Headlines

Quartet closes an upsized A round with a novel approach to pain

Atlas Venture startup Quartet Medicine added $6.25 million to its Series A fundraise, closing the round at $23.25 million as it moves toward clinical trials with a newfangled way of treating chronic pain.

OrbiMed sets its sights on a $950M blockbuster biotech fund

Less than two years after OrbiMed unleashed its last big biotech fund, the venture group is going back to the well to piece together an even bigger, $950 million cache of cash.

Google, OrbiMed buy into Alector's novel take on Alzheimer's with a $32M round

Under-the-radar biotech startup Alector raised $32 million in Series C funds to support its early-stage work in neurodegenerative disease, recruiting some high-profile investors as it develops a novel approach to brain-destroying disorders.

Sanofi backs $38M E round for Langer's Selecta

Selecta Biosciences is taking another carefully planned step down the biotech path it set for itself, raking in $38 million in fresh venture cash from some prominent investors--including its close collaborator Sanofi--and paving the way through a key mid-stage study of its lead program.

CRISPR player Intellia looks IPO-ready after $70M round

Late last year, Atlas Venture joined hands with Novartis to launch gene-editing upstart Intellia and then swiftly followed up with a formal alliance to use CRISPR/Cas9 tech to fashion a new wave of therapeutics. Now, just 8 months after the pact, Intellia has gone back to the well, drawing up $70 million in cash from a group which includes some active crossover investors that have been instrumental in shepherding a flock of biotechs into the busy IPO market.

Wave LifeSci banks $66M with a 'pure' take on synthetic chemistry

Wave Life Sciences, co-founded by famed Harvard chemist Gregory Verdine, put together a $66 million B round to fund its work on a new class of drugs that promise to home in on the genetic defects responsible for diseases.

UPDATED: Torrid pace of VC investing in H1 sets a new biotech record

The venture money machine backing the biotech industry in the U.S. was operating in overdrive during the second quarter, generating a record amount of investing in new drug development as IPOs continue their romp in the third year of a wide-open market.

Melinta grabs $67M in pursuit of a big PhIII antibiotics finish, NDA

A few months after raising $357 million to back their new biotech investment group, the ex-Elan team at Malin has helped place a $67 million bet on Melinta Therapeutics, a late-stage antibiotics developer now taking a second stab at a pivotal Phase III study of their lead program.

UPDATED: Patriots owner Kraft teams up on a $30M antibiotics round for Spero

Atlas Venture's antibiotics upstart Spero Therapeutics has rounded up a $30 million B round, banking enough cash to steer its in-house pipeline to the clinic with some in-licensed technology while shepherding its Roche-partnered program through an IND.

PsiOxus bags $39M from Woodford, GSK for checkpoint inhibitor combo trial

Neil Woodford's new $1.2 billion fund and GlaxoSmithKline's VC unit have contributed to a $39 million Series C round in PsiOxus Therapeutics. The cash will allow PsiOxus to test its oncolytic virus together with a checkpoint inhibitor, a combination it thinks can make the immuno-oncology treatment effective against otherwise resistant targets.