by Richard Murphey
2018 was a record year for venture investments in biotech startups, with $17B invested globally. Venture funding in 2019 is a bit behind 2018, but still on pace to be the second-highest year on record.
Where is this money going? This post will examine the kinds of biotech startups that venture capitalists are investing in. The post includes:
A quick note on terminology: in this post (as in all my other posts), I define "biotech" as companies developing FDA-regulated prescription medicines. So no diagnostics, tools, devices or service companies. I use "biotech" and "biopharma" interchangeably.
Search for biotech startups and investors that have raised money or made investments since January 2018. Most VC-backed startups these days are oncology or rare disease companies at preclinical stage or earlier, and most are located in the San Francisco Bay Area or Boston. If you're searching for companies that don't meet any of those criteria, you'll get more search results if you leave at least one search field blank.
See which investors fund companies like yours. This is best for Series A rounds and beyond, data for seed rounds is more sparse. All of these investors have funded at least one therapeutics company since January 2018.
Search for recently funded startups (have raised venture money since January 2018). These companies may or may not be hiring, but typically companies hire aggressively after a fundraise.
Our data has good coverage of Series A rounds and beyond, but it is harder to find data on seed funding. Most of the active Series A investors in biotech do seed investing as well, but often in companies they create in-house. In the last few years, tech VCs have become more active seed investors in biotech. A tech fund called Nfx has a good list of tech seed investors who have done some biotech.
Below is a list of biotech startups that have received venture funding in the last quarter. It is updated on a weekly basis. Our coverage of Series A and later deals is on par with that of paid subscription databases, but we can't guarantee we catch everything. If we miss something let us know.
If we define “top biotech startups” as “innovative biotherapeutics companies started in the last 50 years that were acquired for or currently trade at $10B+”, the most surprising characteristic is that most of these companies have relatively inexperienced CEOs (CEOs under the age of 40). It’s hard to find comprehensive data on CEO age and biotech startup performance, but I did a writeup of this topic here.
If we define “top biotech startups” as “biotech startups that went public from 2018-Q1 2019” (here I’m just focused on therapeutics companies, not device, diagnostic, agtech, etc):
More qualitatively, successful biotech startups:
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