Look for new dealflow, new investor faces and new funds in Research Triangle Park throughout the year.
At the moment, the life science investing opportunities can look pretty dry. Intersouth Partners, a Durham, North Carolina venture capital firm, has about two deals left until its current fund runs out. The same probably goes for Durham-based Pappas Ventures
But Intersouth and Pappas won’t be dry for long. Local members of the life science sector say both groups will start to raise new funds later this year (Intersouth said as much but wouldn’t confirm a timetable for the new fund; Pappas didn’t respond for comment).
Plus, the recent CED Life Science Conference had a series of new investor faces in the audience, as well as some prodigal sons. A few I spoke with said they were there because they thought there were deals to be done that the typical Park investors wouldn’t be able to get to.
Abbott Biotech Ventures, Novartis Venture Funds, Third Rock Ventures and Versant Ventures were among those that attended the CED event and did not attend in either 2010 or 2011, according to an attendees list from those three years. Some funds that skipped last year’s conference but attended this year and previously included Frazier Healthcare, Landmark Angels and MP Healthcare Venture Management.
Frazier and Versant are raising new funds as we speak, and most of the others are actively investing. I also spoke to some of the more under-the-radar attendees who were representing angel groups but signed up through other affiliations who said they came for the first time to scope investment opportunities.
Talk can be cheap, of course, and investors who look to Research Triangle Park have been pretty predictable over the years, according to those who’ve reviewed all the findings of a recent study by the University of North Carolina and CED.
Several funds that had shown up to the CED event in previous years were no-shows this year. Conference organizers also said most out-of-the region investors have attended through a personal invitation from someone on the event planning committee.
An uptick in additional capital would add to a couple of fresh investment approaches to hit the region recently.
Hatteras Ventures has started investing in the early stage through its Discovery Fund. Plus, the state of North Carolina has set aside $35 million to invest in early stage life science companies. Also, Square 1 Bank and Silicon Valley Bank have regularly shown they’ll provide funds to promising regional life science startups.
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