The MoneyTree Report, as the PricewaterhouseCoopers’ venture capital report is called, was withering three years ago for North Carolina. It’s back in full bloom.

Laura Robinette was named managing partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers in late 2012, just in time to see North Carolina’s worst year in venture capital investments since 1997. Since then, she has observed a remarkable rebound with dollars nearly tripling to $675 million in 2015 – the best year since 2000. Deals almost tripled. What’s going on? She offers her insight.

This Q&A is one of a series WRAL TechWire is publishing today that focus on the latest MoneyTree report, which PwC publishes in partnership with the National Venture Capital Association and Thomson Reuters.

While the VC data is way up, Robinette points out that non-traditional investments climbed, too.

“We are increasingly seeing lots of unique types of investments that are not captured in the MoneyTree results,” she says.

The Q&A:

  • Looks like 2015 was strong year for NC with 63 deals, $675 million – What’s your assessment of what the year demonstrated?

Strong year for venture investments in the state of NC, primarily in terms of dollars invested, but number of deals is also up. The dollars invested in the state is at the highest level since 2000.

Clearly the state is getting more attention from investors outside of the state, which is a good sign.

We are coming off a couple of strong years of IPOs and M&A, which puts more liquidity in the hands of the VC firms for investments.

  • Fourth quarter fell off, however. What factors you think drove down deals?

I do not think you can single out any individual quarter to be a sign of investment activity and think the full year data is much more meaningful.

There were a number of other non-traditional VC investments that aren’t captured in the Money Tree data, which when added in, tell a much broader and better message.

The key is that companies continue to garner significant investments in the state of NC.

Interestingly, the investments also shifted away from Biotech in the 4th quarter and seemed to align more closely with software and IT. Not sure if that is a trend.

  • There were several deals in Charlotte. What do you find encouraging about that?

Interesting to see the deals in Charlotte area this quarter, which is a true anomaly from historical trends. Hoping this shows a broader trend of investments in our state and believe regardless of MSA, more dollars invested in NC companies is a good thing for our local economy.

  • As noted earlier, it appears more money is coming to NC from outside the area.

Outstanding trend to show that outside investors are looking at NC for investments.

  • Several nice exits, such as Ansible to Red Hat for $100 million just two years after launch – are these exits helping draw more interest here?

Definitely when deals are announced in $100 million range, it draws attention to our market. I also think the outreach efforts of local groups such as CED are starting to give additional media attention to the great things going on in NC from a start up perspective.

  • Entering 2016, where do you see the strongest areas for growth?

Biotech/Life Science continues to be an important part of our community and I hope the trend will continue where local biotech companies are getting access to capital, including VC investments and entering the public markets.