Top Investors in Biotech Venture Rounds

by | Nov 27, 2018

Data for the this analysis was compiled using the DealForma database; specifically the companies and venture funding sections. We used company location data tagged with the three major U.S. biotech hubs along with primary therapeutic and technology focus areas. All data are based on publicly disclosed figures. We invite you to answer interesting questions using our data and carefully curated profiles on deals, pipelines, companies, funding, and business executives by visiting to schedule your personalized demo.

Global biotechnology venture investment topped $11.8 billion in 258 financing rounds in the first 10 months of 2018. Who are the top biotech venture investors, where are they investing their money, and what are they investing in? We used DealForma’s extensive database and research capabilities to gather publicly disclosed data from January 1, 2015 through October 31, 2018 and answer these questions. In all, we looked at 1,027 venture rounds at 824 companies with 1,193 investors. The financials in this report are for the round, not that investor’s share.

No matter how you slice it, by number of investments or total dollar value of each investment, a small handful of firms top the list:

Update: Check out how Celgene ranked among cancer investments in an updated table for 2010 to 2018 here

Although it is impossible to know the actual size of these firms’ investments, many times these VCs are the lead investor in a financing. Notable financings in 2018 where they were the lead investor include:

Venture investors tend to take an active role in the companies in which they invest and as such often invest in companies near them so they don’t have to travel as much. Of the twelve most active firms in terms of number of investments and size of rounds over the past four years, five have headquarters or a presence in the Boston/Cambridge, Massachusetts area, while six have a presence in the San Francisco Bay Area. Many have more than one location, including ARCH Ventures—headquartered in Chicago but with offices in San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Austin, and Dublin, Ireland; New Enterprise Associates—headquartered in Chevy Chase, Maryland but with offices in Menlo Park, CA; and OrbiMed Advisors—headquartered in New York City, but with an office in San Francisco and major countries around the world.

Thus many of their dollars go to companies located in the Boston/Cambridge and San Francisco Bay Area hubs. The data shows that Cormorant has invested solely in biotechs in the Boston/Cambridge hub, while San Diego’s share of deals and dollars has been growing, especially from local investors, such as Avalon Ventures, Illumina, Biomed Realty Ventures, Qualcomm, and Viking Therapeutics:

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Deal Profiles


Funding Rounds


Company Profiles


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Clinical Trials


Business Developers

Specifically for Biotech, Pharma, Device, and Diagnostics

It’s no surprise that cancer continues to be the main therapeutic area of focus both for the number and size of the deals. There’s also renewed interest in therapies targeting neurologic disorders and infectious diseases:

Finally, what technologies are hot? Over the past four years, VC investment in companies developing first-in-class and best-in-class small molecule therapeutics far surpasses investment in immunotherapies, cell therapies, and gene therapies:

Next week, I’ll start a series on partnering and M&A trends as we lead up to the 2019 J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.

Marie Daghlian is a freelance writer and editor who reports on the business of biotechnology and healthcare technologies and on rare diseases for Global Gene’s Rare Daily. She also covers the industry for Big4Bio, a daily newsletter focused on the four major biotech centers in the United States.

Chris Dokomajilar is the Founder / CEO of DealForma and has been an industry analyst for over a decade. He analyzed the data and produced the charts for this article. More about Chris.

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