Biotech VC firm Frazier Healthcare closes in on $300M fund

Frazier Healthcare has grabbed commitments of $281.8 million toward a targeted $300 million for the venture firm's seventh fund, according to an SEC filing. The firm seeks to raise half as much as the $600 million it secured for its previous fund launched in 2008, yet the crew at Frazier have done well enough to survive a serious drought fundraising for VC outfits.

The 22-year-old firm, which has offices in Seattle and Menlo Park, CA, has a track record of investing in biotech startups and growth-equity deals in healthcare. It has reeled in at least $1.8 billion in commitments from all 7 of its funds, according to its website. And the latest fund has won commitments from 20 investors, including the general partner, according to the SEC filing. The filing reports an $82.5 million closing for Frazier's Fund VII.

General Partner James Topper led the firm's successful investments in Calistoga Pharmaceuticals, which biotech giant Gilead Sciences ($GILD) acquired for up to $600 million in 2011, as well as Alnara Pharmaceuticals, which Eli Lilly ($LLY) bought for $180 million in 2010. Those smart bets have helped make Topper one of the 10 top life sciences investors in the venture industry, Forbes reported this week.

After a period of raising bloated funds, some venture outfits have hauled in smaller amounts for their latest investment vehicles as they pursue new strategies for delivering top returns for their investors. This month Atlas Venture, which backs biotech and tech startups, revealed the close of a $265 million fund that overshot its $250 million target yet was smaller than the amounts raised during the dot-com craze. 

Exceptions to the downsizing strategy include Third Rock Venture's most recent fund of $516 million, an increase from the firm's previous two funds, and New Enterprise Associates, which closed a monster $2.6 billion fund last year for investing in a variety of industries. 

Life sciences-focused VC outfits raised a weak $2.5 billion last year compared with an average of $7.8 billion in 2007 and 2008, according to a recent report from the law firm Fenwick & West.

- here's the SEC filing