NEA debuts $2.6B venture fund, with device and Dx firms (partly) in mind

We have great venture capital news to tell you about this morning. New Enterprise Associates (NEA) has raised $2.6 billion, closing its 14th fund, one of the largest funds of its kind ever raised. NEA will zero in on medical device opportunities, plus biopharmaceutical and healthcare companies.

Reuters reports that the fund may be the biggest right now in venture capital, though it rivals the venture giant's 2006 and 2009 funds, NEA 12 and NEA 13, which raised $2.5 billion a piece. NEA focuses generally on information technology, healthcare and energy technology in various sectors.

But there are some sobering elements here, too. VC investing in life sciences has slowed dramatically overall so far this year and remains sluggish in the medical device space. And NEA managing general partner Peter Barris said in a statement that the new fund reflects a growing industry model, where most of the VC money available for investment is concentrated among a few major players.

"Our industry has been profoundly transformed in recent years and a new model has quietly gained traction where more dollars are being committed to large funds that are global and diversified in nature," he said. "The venture capital ecosystem needs both large and small firms to thrive. But companies are scaling earlier and faster than ever before in a highly competitive global landscape, and they need partners with a global footprint and deep pockets to succeed."

NEA notes, for example, that it maintains affiliate offices in India and China, and invests across four continents. In the U.S., NEA is based in Menlo Park, CA, Chevy Chase, MD, Timonium, MD and New York City.

NEA's medical device investment portfolio includes Aspect Medical Systems, which produces non-invasive anesthesia monitoring systems; Biometric Imaging, an in-vitro diagnostics systems company and Apnex Medical, which is developing devices to treat people who have sleep-disordered breathing problems.

- read the release
- check out FierceBiotech's take
- read Reuters' take

Special Report: Top 10 VC Device deals of H1 2012