Abingworth's new $375M VC fund is a positive development for device and Dx outfits

News that Abingworth has raised $375 million and sealed the deal for its 10th venture capital fund is a positive development for medical device, diagnostic and drug companies in a market where investment dollars are harder to come by.

Sonitus Medical's SoundBite hearing device--Courtesy of Sonitus

As our sister publication FierceBiotech reported, the fund may be far smaller than the London-based stalwart's previous, $590 million fund (before the economic crash), but it surpassed Abingworth's goal by more than $40 million. Plans call for using the life sciences fund for up to 20 global life sciences investments of between $10 million and $35 million apiece.

"Is this market as good as 2007? No. It isn't. But I think people are still very interested by the area, just more cautious and careful, and I think that's appropriate," Abingworth Managing Partner Stephen Bunting told FierceBiotech in an interview.

While Abingworth focuses in large part on biotechnology and biopharmaceuticals, it has also invested in the medical device and diagnostic spaces and is likely to do so again in the future. Among its investments in that space: Avedro, a Waltham, MA, medical device/pharmaceutical company developing thermal energy-powered vision-correction devices for cataract and refractive surgery that are sold internationally but not yet U.S.-approved. The company already nailed down an investment from Abingworth's newest fund.

Another Abingworth portfolio company: Epigenomics, a Berlin diagnostics outfit listed on the Frankfurt stock exchange that sells diagnostic tests for early detection of colorectal cancer and lung cancer (that's known as a VIPE, or Venture Investments in Public Equities). There's also K Spine, a Minnesota-based developer of implantable medical devices to treat spine disorders, and Pathwork Diagnostics, a California operation now owned by Response Genetics that was focused on developing better cancer diagnostics. Yet another device-related Abingworth investment, Sonitus Medical, a California developer of a nonsurgical removable hearing device that transmits sounds via the teeth, now has FDA clearance and a CE mark.

Abingworth's ongoing resilience in the life sciences investment climate comes as device and diagnostics companies continue to face fewer options for new funding. In 2013, VCs spent $2.1 billion on 308 medical device investment deals, representing a 17% plunge in dollars and a 4% drop in deals over 2012, according to the year-end MoneyTree Report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, based on Thomson Reuters data. That, of course, continued a years-long downward trend.

- read the full FierceBiotech story

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