RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Three venture capital reports include differing data about what’s happening across North Carolina and the U.S. so far this year. So WRAL TechWire reached out to several different thought leaders and investors to gather their analysis of what they see happening.

Joan Siefert Rose, CEO of LaunchBio and former CEO of the Council for Entrepreneurial Development, chose to address her specialty – the life science sector.

“I agree with [Council for Entrepreneurial Development’s] Jay Bigelow’sassessment, and can add a few points about life sciences companies,” Rose told WRAL TechWire.

“Life sciences/healthcare  companies accounted for the top five deals, the lion’s share of the funding.”

Her thoughts:

  1. It’s encouraging to see Triangle life sciences industry veterans leading startups.

Zhi Hong, co-founder and CEO of Brii BioSciences, which led the way with $280 million in fundrasing for Q2, had a long career at GSK, helping to turn around its infectious disease unit, and leading the joint venture ViiV Healthcare. He is a serial entrepreneur and has many international connections, which are key to Brii’s business focus.

Serial entrepreneur Moise Khayrallah, who started his career at Burroughs Wellcome, helped lead Emergo Therapeutics to an over-subscribed $12 million round that includes top local investors.

  1. Genome editing platforms are attracting interest from national investors. 

This is a hot field, and the Triangle has some strong players in Precision BioSciences and StrideBio, both of which had oversubscribed rounds.

Precision BioSciences’ Series B was led by Denver-based ArrowMark Partners, and investors include San Francisco-based venBio Partners and Gilead Sciences, and Boston-based Leerink Partners.

StrideBio’s Series A was led by Durham-based Hatteras Venture Partners, with a syndicate that includes Silicon Valley-based Takeda Ventures, Alexandria Real Estate Equities, and Brussels-based UCB.

It is exciting to see these new players in the market.

  1. Persistence pays off. 

Both Valencell, which makes biometric sensors, and Precision BioSciences were founded in 2006.  It was a long, lonely road through the Great Recession for both companies, but they have emerged stronger and more competitive, with their original founders still at the helm.

Both companies are poised to scale quickly with this newly raised capital.

Will 2018 be a record year? 

It could be, for life sciences companies.

There is a lot of money that needs to be deployed, and investors are placing bets earlier.

Several firms based at the co-working space BioLabs North Carolina have had  positive scientific results that are attracting interest from investors, and this new cluster of promising startups in downtown Durham is becoming a regular stop for out-of-town investors interested in meeting entrepreneurs with strong technology and good business teams.