Venrock unveils a $450M new fund with eyes on biotech

Well-heeled venture capital firm Venrock has pieced together a 7th fund, banking $450 million in new investments as it sets out to grow its portfolio of promising startups.

The 45-year-old VC splits its focus between tech innovators and life sciences startups, counting drugmakers Juno Therapeutics, Intarcia Therapeutics and the recently IPO'd Avalanche Biotechnologies ($AAVL) among its beneficiaries. Venrock's last fund, a $350 million chest closed in 2010, helped fuel 8 exits of more than $1 billion each, founder Bryan Roberts wrote in a blog post, and this year has seen the firm's portfolio companies pull off 5 IPOs and 5 M&As.

Laurance Rockefeller

Now it's on Venrock to carry on tradition. The company's roots begin with Laurance Rockefeller, who began placing venture-like bets in the 1930s before co-founding Venrock in 1969 to institutionalize the process, according to Roberts. The firm used its first fund to stake the likes of Apple ($AAPL) and Gilead Sciences ($GILD), and Roberts and company hope Venrock's 7th outing will make it look similarly prescient in the years to come.

"The establishment of a new fund feels like one part cause for proud announcement and 99 parts assumption of a decade or more of responsibility to relentlessly strive for excellence for our two crucial constituencies--the founders, entrepreneurs and teams in whom we invest, and the limited partners who have invested in us," he wrote.

Venrock's latest close comes just a week after Sofinnova Ventures debuted a $500 million new fund. Days before, Versant Ventures revealed that it is nearing the finish line with a $300 million new purse, and Essex Woodlands disclosed that it has raised $221.5 million of a planned $750 million 9th fund of its own.

The group joins a slew of biotech VCs amassing or unveiling new funds over the last 12 months, following Arch Venture Partners and its April filing to raise a $250 million 8th fund. In February, the U.K.'s Abingworth closed a $375 million raise, while early-stage backer 5AM Ventures revealed a $250 million second close in December, and VC giant OrbiMed launched a $735 million fund the month prior. VC mainstays Frazier Healthcare, NovaQuest, Third Rock and Atlas also unveiled funds in 2013, totaling more than $1 billion.

- read Roberts' post