Top biotech venture capital funds of 2018-2021

by Richard Murphey

It's a good time to be in biotech. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, biotech venture funding is at record levels -- and the pace of investment is accelerating. 2021 is on pace to see nearly double the amount of VC investment compared to 2020, which was the previous record year.

2021 is shaping up to be a great year for exits as well, with the IPO market set to nearly double the activity seen in 2020.

There is a lot of money being made. Which investors are making the most?

This post will describe the top biotech venture capital firms from 2018 to today:

  • What kinds of investors fund biotech startups?
  • Who are the most active biotech VCs in Series A and B rounds?
  • Who are the most active seed and angel investors in biotech?
  • Which VCs made the most money from exits in 2018 through 1H 2021?

Perhaps most encouragingly, the biggest investments and exits were for companies with life-saving medicines and transformational technology. The industry now seems to value true innovation more than incremental advances and me-too drugs. If you're interested in seeing what kind of startups investors are funding, checkout our searchable list of recently funded biotech startups.

A quick note -- in this post, I use "biotech" and "biopharma" interchangeably to mean companies developing FDA-regulated prescription medicines -- no devices, diagnostics, etc.

Who's investing?

In the last 18 months, the biggest changes to the biopharma venture landscape are 1) crossover investors and hedge funds becoming more active at earlier stages and 2) emerging "tech-bio" funds becoming more active at the Series A stage. As a consequence, the established biotech VCs have been squeezed from both downstream crossover investors and upstream "tech-bio" seed / Series A investors ("tech-bio" refers to investors that come from the software / tech world and have become active in biotech).

Crossover investing started to pick up around 2012 when hedge funds and other public equity funds started investing in private companies in an effort to boost returns. As the IPO market has become more accessible to earlier stage companies, and as later-stage VC has become more crowded, crossover investors have moved earlier. Crossover investors led 27% of Series B rounds through the first eight months of 2021. That's a huge increase compared to 2018 and 2019, when crossovers led 13-14% of B rounds.

Crossover investors are largely picking up where Chinese investors left off. Chinese investors were some of the most active funders of biotech startups in the world in 2018, but that ground to a near halt in 2019 due to US-China geopolitical tensions.

While the mid- and late-stage venture markets have become increasingly crowded, early stage funding has historically been dominated by traditional biotech VCs. During 2021, crossover and "tech-bio" investors have taken some share of the Series A market from the traditional biotech VCs. Established biotech VCs led 40% of Series A deals each year from 2018-2020, but that is down to 35% through the first eight months of 2021. If the biotech market remains hot, it is likely that traditional Series A biotech investors will continue to lose share to more crossover and "tech-bio" investors entering the sector, though the established funds will likely remain the largest players.

The top biotech VCs have some fairly durable competitive advantages, ranging from fully staffed wet lab facilities capable of incubating companies in house to softer advantages like relationships (with pharma, universities and downstream investors), reputations and track records. Academic researchers, who may have one or two opportunities to start a company in their whole career, tend to prefer working with VCs with strong track records to ensure their "baby" is in good hands (though this competitive advantage will likely erode as crossover and "tech-bio" VCs establish their track records and offer better terms to founders). The best funds also have a good sense for picking winners and conducting diligence (and avoiding blowups like Zymergen, uBiome and Theranos), although if the market stays hot, downstream investors will continue to be more risk tolerant (and have less time to conduct diligence during competitive deal processes).

On the other hand, crossover and "tech-bio" investors have some advantages over the established early-stage funds. Crossover investors have strong relationships with IPO investors and significant IPO experience. "Tech-bio" investors execute deals more quickly with more founder-friendly terms, and in many cases have active marketing arms that help these funds generate interest among LPs and downstream investors.

Benchmark VC performance

Deal-level cash-on-cash returns, proceeds from exits, check sizes, and more for 1,500+ biopharma investors covering $80B+ in global venture investment.

A changing investor landscape

While the total amount of money invested into biotech startups has increased dramatically, the number of active investors has increased more slowly. An increase in deal sizes accounts for a lot of the increase in deal volume, as the top companies get increasingly large amounts of capital to work with.

Until 2021, the top Series A investors have been company creators, with many of their Series A investments going to companies they build in-house. This is changing. More crossover investors and hedge funds are becoming active at the Series A stage, and "tech-bio" investors, who have been focused on seed deals for the last few years, are starting to invest more in Series A deals. There are currently only a handful of tech-bio investors who lead more than a couple Series A deals each year, but there are dozens of tech-bio seed funds that are looking to write larger checks.

What about the top Series B investors?

Which VCs made the most from exits?

Below are the VCs who made the most from exits in 2018 through August 2021. This list includes biotech startups that raised $50M+ on NASDAQ or NYSE or were acquired while public (we don't have data for private M&A). The market values assume the investor held all shares since IPO. This table only includes data for companies where investors held 5% or more of common shares pre-IPO.

Firm name Num. of portfolio IPOs Num. of portfolio public M&A Proceeds at IPO price Proceeds at Aug 20, 2021 Portfolio IPOs Portfolio public M&A
Flagship90$2,287,168,437$23,217,458,102Axcella Health, Evelo Biosciences, Kaleido Biosciences, Moderna Therapeutics, Rubius Therapeutics, Sigilon Therapeutics, Foghorn Therapeutics, Codiak Biosciences, Sana Biotechnology
Viking Global110$1,350,505,881$4,568,187,217BridgeBio, Moderna Therapeutics, Zentalis Pharmaceuticals, Athira Pharma, PMV Pharma, 4D Molecular Therapeutics, Edgewise Therapeutics, Pharvaris, AbCellera, Talaris Therapeutics, Rallybio
Orbimed347$2,170,362,158$3,381,970,520Alector, Armo Biosciences, Arcutis Biotherapeutics, Arvinas, Crinetics, 89Bio, Harpoon Therapeutics, Imara, Keros Therapeutics, LogicBio Therapeutics, NextCure, Passage Bio, Prevail Therapeutics, Repare Therapeutics, SpringWorks Therapeutics, Tricida, Synthorx, resTORbio, Turning Point Therapeutics, Verrica Pharmaceuticals, Galecto Biotech, PMV Pharma, Kinnate Biopharma, Graybug Vision, Silverback Therapeutics, Prelude Therapeutics, Fusion Pharmaceuticals, Terns Pharmaceuticals, Edgewise Therapeutics, Decibel Therapeutics, Oric Pharmaceuticals, Ikena Oncology, VectivBio, Janux TherapeuticsArmo Biosciences, Principia Biopharma, Prevail Therapeutics, Synthorx, Clementia Pharmaceuticals, Audentes Therapeutics, Loxo Oncology
Foresite Capital111$940,863,000$1,904,576,367Fulcrum Therapeutics, Keros Therapeutics, Arcus Biosciences, Replimune, Turning Point Therapeutics, Kinnate Biopharma, 10x Genomics, Pharvaris, Cullinan Oncology, Nurix Therapeutics, Lyell ImmunopharmaAimmune Therapeutics
KKR30$680,224,079$1,853,946,441BridgeBio, Oyster Point Pharma, Impel NeuroPharma
Venrock72$663,556,450$1,828,714,686Constellation Pharmaceuticals, Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals, Milestone Pharmaceuticals, Unity Biotechnology, 10x Genomics, Instil Bio, Cyteir TherapeuticsConstellation Pharmaceuticals, AveXis
Fidelity243$413,275,115$1,764,463,225Akouos, Axcella Health, BioNTech, Evelo Biosciences, Generation Bio, Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals, Neon Therapeutics, Rubius Therapeutics, Scholar Rock, Unity Biotechnology, Shattuck Labs, Codiak Biosciences, Taysha Gene Therapies, Vor Biopharma, 10x Genomics, Poseida Therapeutics, AlloVir, Seer, Ikena Oncology, Vera Therapeutics, Ambrx, Monte Rosa Therapeutics, Nuvalent, Tenaya TherapeuticsTranslate Bio, MyoKardia, Dermira
ARCH Venture Partners131$1,232,735,342$1,734,755,801Beam Therapeutics, Homology Medicines, Gossamer Bio, Karuna Pharmaceuticals, Scholar Rock, Unity Biotechnology, Codiak Biosciences, Metacrine, Sana Biotechnology, Singular Genomic Systems, Erasca, Verve Therapeutics, Lyell ImmunopharmaJuno Therapeutics
Atlas Venture121$1,090,018,499$1,555,956,506Akero Therapeutics, Avrobio, Bicycle Therapeutics, Generation Bio, Magenta Therapeutics, Replimune, Surface Oncology, Unum Therapeutics, Dyne Therapeutics, Kymera Therapeutics, Ikena Oncology, Day One BiopharmaceuticalsTranslate Bio
RA Capital Management293$935,377,760$1,379,783,684Akouos, Arvinas, Black Diamond Therapeutics, Crinetics, 89Bio, Forma Therapeutics, Imara, Lyra Therapeutics, Vaxcyte, Prevail Therapeutics, Solid Biosciences, Satsuma Pharmaceuticals, Synthorx, Olema Oncology, Dyne Therapeutics, Kinnate Biopharma, Vor Biopharma, Bolt Biotherapeutics, iTeos Therapeutics, Inozyme, Connect Biopharmaceuticals, Achilles Therapeutics, Day One Biopharmaceuticals, Werewolf Therapeutics, Janux Therapeutics, Acumen Pharmaceuticals, Aerovate Therapeutics, Cyteir Therapeutics, IcosavaxPrevail Therapeutics, Synthorx, Ra Pharmaceuticals
Baker Brothers122$816,473,050$1,349,045,720Atreca, Cabaletta Bio, Forma Therapeutics, Hookipa Pharma, IGM Biosciences, Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals, Kodiak Sciences, Prelude Therapeutics, Aligos Therapeutics, Immunocore, Achilles Therapeutics, TScan TherapeuticsPrincipia Biopharma, Spark Therapeutics
GlaxoSmithKline83$855,760,912$1,305,570,684Bicycle Therapeutics, Fulcrum Therapeutics, Morphic Therapeutic, Orchard Therapeutics, Turning Point Therapeutics, Decibel Therapeutics, Pandion Therapeutics, Lyell ImmunopharmaPrincipia Biopharma, Translate Bio, Pandion Therapeutics
Versant142$1,032,182,150$1,233,072,514Akero Therapeutics, Aprea Therapeutics, Black Diamond Therapeutics, Crinetics, Gritstone Oncology, Oyster Point Pharma, Passage Bio, Repare Therapeutics, Aligos Therapeutics, Pandion Therapeutics, Lava Therapeutics, VectivBio, Monte Rosa Therapeutics, Century TherapeuticsAudentes Therapeutics, Pandion Therapeutics
Pfizer Venture Investments80$613,359,939$1,228,114,023Allogene Therapeutics, Cortexyme, Imara, Morphic Therapeutic, NextCure, SpringWorks Therapeutics, 4D Molecular Therapeutics, Kymera Therapeutics
Third Rock92$1,028,995,856$1,190,095,187Constellation Pharmaceuticals, Fulcrum Therapeutics, Magenta Therapeutics, Neon Therapeutics, Pliant Therapeutics, Revolution Medicines, Decibel Therapeutics, Relay Therapeutics, Nurix TherapeuticsConstellation Pharmaceuticals, MyoKardia

Analyze VC performance

Deal-level cash-on-cash returns, proceeds from exits, check sizes, and more for 1,500+ biopharma investors covering $80B+ in global venture investment.

Top seed funds

Prior to 2018 or so, there wasn't really a biotech seed market. But in the last few years, the biotech seed market has exploded. Dozens of new investors have emerged who are focused on funding scientifically ambitious biotech companies, often started by younger scientific founders (as opposed to the experienced professional entrepreneurs that often run VC-backed biotech startups).

Data on seed funding is less comprehensive than later-stage funding, as these companies don't publicize their raises as often. To identify the top biotech seed investors, I asked biotech founders in my network who have raised $1M+ in seed capital in the last 2 years.

This methodology ensures that the investors on the list are 1) actively investing and 2) founder friendly. However, this list is not comprehensive and certainly omits some great investors. If you are a founder and think I should add an investor to the list, let me know.

Fund name Blog Notable investments Location Investor type Team Twitter
5AM Ventures, Arvinas, Ceterix Orthopedics, Vor Biopharma, ViveveBoston, San Francisco Bay AreaSeed, VentureKush Parmar, Andrew Schwab, David Allison, Jamil Beg, Mira Chaurushiya, Brian Daniels, Rebecca Lucia, Deborah Palestrant, John Diekman, Michelle Ho, Pengpeng Li, Kevin Nguyen, Scott Rocklage, Jason Ruth
8VC Genomics, Bolt Threads, Mantra BioSan Francisco Bay AreaSeed, VentureFrancisco Gimenez, David Moskowitz, Alex Kolicich
Alix Ventures Health, Circularis, Xilis, EleganSan Francisco Bay AreaSeedChas Pulido, Ron Shigeta
Andreessen Horowitz Bio, Scribe Therapeutics, Asimov, FreenomeSan Francisco Bay AreaSeed, Venture, GrowthJudy Savitskaya, Jorge Conde, Vijay Pande, Andy Tran, Frank Chen, Julie Yoo, Justin Larkin, JT Evans
Apollo Health Ventures, SeedJens Eckstein, Nils Regge, Alexandra Bause, Anela Vukoja
ApolloSan Francisco Bay AreaAcceleratorMax Altman, Sam Altman, Jack Altman
ARTIS, Freenome, Eko, IdbyDNA, Fabric Genomics, Aether BiomachinesSeedStuart Peterson, Vasudev Bailey, Austin Walne
Asset Management Ventures, Freenome, HealthTap, Audentes Therapeutics, 3T BiosciencesSan Francisco Bay AreaSeed, VentureSkip Fleshman, Lou Lange, Rich Simoni, Melina Mathur, Luke Lee
Augustin KuCloud9, Hexagon bio, StemCentRx, SyntheXLas Vegas, NevadaAngelAugustin Ku
Axial Biosciences, Inflammatix, Genedit, Unnatural ProductsSan Francisco Bay AreaAngelJoshua Elkington
BioRock Ventures, Seal Rock Therapeutics, Octagon Therapeutics, AN2 Therapeutics, Primmune TherapeuticsSan Francisco Bay AreaSeedMary Wheeler
Bioverge Labs, Enclear Therapies, Echo, Blue Mesa, Occamz RazorSan Francisco Bay AreaAngelNeil Littman
Boom CapitalMammoth Biosciences, A-Alpha Bio, FaunaBio, System1 BiosciencesSan Francisco Bay AreaSeedCelestine Schnugg
Cambrian BiopharmaNew York CitySeedJames Peyer, Christian Angermeyer, Juliete Han, Tauhid Ali, Dennis Yamashita, Georg Terstappen
Canaan Therapeutics, Synthekine, Onkos Surgical, Pathios Therapeutics, Pact PharmaSan Francisco Bay Area, New York CitySeed, VentureBrent Ahrens, Colleen Cuffaro, Julie Grant, Nina Kjellson, Stephen Bloch, Tim Shannon, Wende Hutton
Civilization VenturesBillionToOne, Omada Health, Lemonaid, Foresight Diagnostics, Singular Bio, Convergent Genomics, Rocket Pharma, Prellis BiologicsSan Francisco Bay AreaSeed, VentureShahram Seyedin-Noor
Codon CapitalArcus Biosciences, Bolt Threads, Flexus Biosciences, Oric Pharmaceuticals, Shattuck Labs, ZymergenSan Francisco Bay AreaSeed, VentureKarl Handelsman, Mitchell Mutz
DCVC, C16 Biosciences, Cofactor Genomics, Orca BioSeed, Venture Zachary Bogue, John Hamer, Kiersten Stead, James Hardiman, Armen vidian, Ali Tamaseb, Anna Fokina, John Cumbers, Christopher Meldrum, Andy May
Digitalis Ventures Therapeutics, Terray Therapeutics, The Mighty, MollyBox, Onc.AI, Rejuvenate BioNew York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, BostonSeedGeoff Smith, Sam Bjork
E-Fund / Point Reyes Management1910 Genetics, Industrial Microbes, Spiral Genetics, Nano CheqSan Francisco Bay AreaSeedSophia Collier, Chula Reynolds, Matt Esh
Endpoint Ventures (angel syndicate of founders of GeneWEAVE and Endpoint Health)Billion to One, Shasqi, Indee Labs, Meru Health, Reverie Labs, The One Healthcare Company, Viosera Therapeutics, SynkrinoSan Francisco Bay AreaAngelDiego Rey, Jason Springs, Leo Teixeira
Fifty Years VChttps://fiftyyears.substack.comHelixNano, Opentrons, Tierra Biosciences, Athelas, Memphis MeatsSan Francisco Bay AreaSeedEla Madej, Seth Bannon, Shuo Yang
Foobar VCCircularis, VitroLabs, Radix Labs, Nextmind, HelixNanoSeedDavid Helgason
FoundersX Ventures1910 Genetics,, Kernal Bio, Trexo RoboticsSan Francisco Bay AreaSeed to GrowthHelen Liang, Benjamin Xu, Tom Kosnik, Cyrus Hodes, John Sun, Wendy Hayes
Genoa Ventures Biosystems, Intabio, Intervenn, Ionpath, Synthomics, Tropic BiosciencesSan Francisco Bay AreaSeedJenny Rooke, Richard Kenny, Bill Hyun, Paul Conley, Paco Cifuentes
Georges Harik23andMe, uBiome, Metabiota, Adimab, Tegmine TherapeuticsSan Francisco Bay AreaSeedGeorges Harik
Gwen CheniTinctorium, Lupa Bio, SynthexSan Francisco Bay AreaAngelGwen Cheni
Hof Capital, Metagenomi, XGenomes, Ovid Research, BillionToOneNew York City, San Francisco Bay Area, LondonSeed, Venture Victor Wang, Hisham Elhaddad, Neil Devani
Humboldt FundMemphis Meats, Meatable, NotCo, Mission Barns, Ansa Biotechnologies, Geltor, Miroculus, Finch Therapeutics, BrightSeedSan Francisco Bay AreaSeedBenjamin Quiroga, Sebastian Bernales
Hummingbird VenturesBillionToOne, Basecamp Research, KernalLondon, AntwerpSeed, Series A, Series BFirat Ileri, Tess van Stekelenburg, Pablo Lubroth
Incube VenturesCorhythm, Neurolink, Rani Therapeutics, Spinal ModulationSan JoseSeedMar Perez, Andrew Farquharson, Mir Imran, Talat Imran, Mark Sieczkarek, Wayne Roe
IndieBio Age Meats, SugarLogix, Prellis Biologics, JunglaSan Francisco Bay Area, New York CityAcceleratorJun Axup, Po Bronson, Stephen Chambers, Rodrigo Mallo Leiva, Alex Kopelyan, Pae U
James HongAthelas, Hexagon Bio, Tegmine Therapeutics, Emerald Cloud Lab, Emerald TherapeuticsSan Francisco Bay AreaAngelJames Hong
Jude Gomila Pharma, Cofactor Genomics, Coral Genomics, Viosera Therapeutics, Gingko BioworksSan Francisco Bay AreaAngelJude Gomila
KdT Ventures Biosciences, PathAI, 54Gene, EleganAustinSeed, VentureCain McClary, Mack Healy, Rima Chakrabarti, Phil Grayeski
Khosla Ventures Bio, BIOAGE, Cellino, E25Bio, Editas Medicine, eGenesis, Eligo Biosciences, Encellin, Fountain Therapeutics, GEn1ESan Francisco Bay AreaSeed, VentureVinod Khosla, Alex Morgan, Justin Kao, Kristina Simmons
Liquid2 VenturesC16 Biosciences, Solugen, AthelasSan Francisco Bay AreaSeedMichael Ma, Nate Montana, Joe Montana, Mike Miller
Longevity Fund Oncology, Celevity, Decibel Therapeutics, Fauna Bio, Precision BiosciencesSan Francisco Bay AreaSeed, AcceleratorLaura Deming
Luminous VenturesOxford VR, Optellum, Vital, Active Global, Astroscreen, Biobeats, Beyond…, Climax Foods, Ellipsis Health, Facesoft, FloxLondonSeedIsabel Fox, Lomax Ward, Simon Hsu, Peter Crane, Alasdair Thong, Miao He, Josh Liu, John Spindler, James Joll, Csaba Konkoly
Lux Capital Neuroscience, Recursion Pharma, Genocea, Auris Surgical Robotics, KallyopeNew York City, San Francisco Bay AreaSeedZavain Dar, Adam Goulburn, Ian Peikon, Robert Paull
Mars Bio, Better Earth, Encellin, ArmadaSeed, Venture Robert Rhinehart, Arye Lipman, Llewellyn Cox,
Mayfield Bio, Mammoth Biosciences, Qventus, Endpoint HealthSan Francisco Bay AreaSeed, VentureTim Chang, Arvind Gupta, Ursheet Parikh, Navin Chaddha
Mission BioCapitalZymergen, Cell Design Labs, Alector, Bolt Threads, Nocion Therapeutics, Wild Type, Pandion Therapeutics, GlycomineSan Francisco Bay AreaSeed, VentureDoug Crawford, Peter Parker, Steve Tregay, Johannes Fruehauf, Eric Linsley, Robert Blazej, Anthony Walsh
New Ventures Funds (Scientia Ventures) Therapeutics, Royalty Pharma, Fibrogen, CibusNew York CitySeed, VentureJonathan Finn, Mark Finn, Henry Glorikian, Rory Riggs, Richard Warburg, John Dessouki
NFX Biosciences, C2i Genomics, Twist Biosciences. Armada, Genome CompilerSan Francisco Bay Area, IsraelSeedJames Currier, Pete Flint, Gigi Levy-Weiss, Morgan Beller, Shayma Sharif, Brittany Yoon
Nordic Makers, Helix Nano, BiolibNordic CountriesSeedMoaffak Ahmed, Michael Seifert, Esben Gadsboll, Klaus Nyengaard, Martin Von Haller Gronbaek, Lars Floe Nielsen, Alexander Aghassipour, David Helgason, Benjamin Ratz
OMX VenturesFinch TherapeuticsSeed, VentureDaniel Fero, Nick Haft, Craig Asher
Pacific 8 Bioscience, BillionToOne, Dorian Therapeutics, Fauna Bio, Karius, Cura TherapeuticsTaipei, San Francisco Bay AreaSeedChris Shu, Jack Liang, Ser-Chen Fu
Paul Buchheit Genomics, Bikanta, Cue Health, Comprehend, LuministSan Francisco Bay AreaAngelPaul Buchheit
Paul Graham Graham
Petri BioBostonAccelerator, SeedTony Kulesa, Jaye Goldstein, Brian Baynes, Jamie Goldstein, Christian Caraco, Josh Moser
Point Nine Coppey, Ricardo Sequerra, Christoph Janz, Pawel Chudzinski
Presight CapitalTerran Biosciences, Peptilogics, Enclear TherapiesNew York CitySeedChristian Angermayer, Fabian Hansen
Refactor Capital Biology, Computational Biology / Chemistry, Therapeutics, Longevity, Genomics, AI / ML, OtherSan Francisco Bay AreaSeedZal Bilimoria, David Lee
Sam Altman Altman
Sea LaneCradle Genomics, Spring Discovery, Q BioSeed, VentureLing Wong
Tech.BioSan Francisco Bay AreaSeedOmri Drory
True Ventures, Fauna Bio, Intervenn Biosciences, Prellis Biologics, SymbiomeSan Francisco Bay AreaSeedRohit Sharma, Adam D'Augelli
Tsingyuan Ventures Therapeutics, Namocell, Erisyon, Cardea BioSeedMichael Jin, Steve Sun, Biao He
Wireframe VenturesMammoth Biosciences, Reverie Labs, GeneticureSan Francisco Bay AreaSeedHarsh Patel, Paul Straub
Y Combinator Therapeutics, Gingko Bioworks, Alpine Roads, Solugen, AthelasSan FranciscoAcceleratorJared Friedman, Paul Bucheit, Michael Seibel, Uri Lopatin
Yleana Venture Partners/Emles AdvisorsSeed

To stay updated on biopharma startup funding and exit trends through 2020, check out our free startup dashboard for summary info updated on a regular basis.

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