The top 17 venture capital firms

We here at FierceBiotech regularly chronicle the largest venture capital deals in biotech. It's a great way to keep an eye on up-and-coming companies with groundbreaking programs in their pipelines. But every time we release a venture capital report, at least a few readers ask us for something else: an in-depth look at the venture capital firms behind the funding that supports these small companies. So with the help of data from the National Venture Capital Association, we've compiled a list of the most active life science investors. The 17 firms on this list have done 14 or more deals since the beginning of 2008. The largest biotech investor--Domain Associates--has participated in 41 deals in the last year and a half.

These VC firms include both life science-only firms as well as groups that invest in a variety of industries. In the process of our research, we spoke to a number of venture capitalists about the what they look for when they choose to back a company. Despite the diversity of the firms, some clear trends emerged. All the VCs agreed that having a strong management team is one of the most critical factors when choosing whether or not to financially support a new company. The investors we spoke to were looking for drugs or programs that address unmet medical needs, and many felt that the economic crisis hasn't had a substantial negative impact on their activities. For more insights, and to view the profiles of the firms that made the list, read this report.