Entrepreneurs seeking investors in their companies heard from four corporate venture capital funds at the CED Life Science Conference panel, “Follow the Money,” earlier this week.

Venture capitalists from Lilly Ventures, J&J Development Corp., Novo Ventures and Illumina Ventures discussed what their funds and parent companies are looking for in investment partners.

While each of the funds has its own strategic direction, they all agreed that their funds invest in innovative companies that will be strong partners.

According to Steve Hall of Lilly Ventures, the fund’s focus is on identifying “paradigm shifting therapies” that can strengthen and support Lilly & Company’s strategic initiatives.

Illumina’s approach is similar. The fund seeks to invest in startups that will show them the future of the genomics industry, while providing opportunities for growth for the parent company.

So, if you are an innovative startup seeking investors, how do you grab the attention of corporate venture capital funds?

Hall of Lilly Ventures had this advice: Get feedback from venture capitalists early. They can provide your company with valuable feedback and guidance on what qualities will attract investors.

Nick Naciero of Illumina Ventures also encourages startups to begin building relationships with venture capitalists early, pointing out that seeing a company gain momentum and achieve milestones builds confidence that can lead to an investment relationship and strategic partnership.

Kadir Kadhiresan of J&J agreed. By building a relationship with a startup at the beginning stages, the venture capitalist can monitor the company and determine the best time to invest.

(C) N.C. Biotechnology Center