Archive | June, 2013

Hot Life Science Investor Mandate 1: Government Provides Foundation $2b to Fund Sustainable Tech – June 20, 2013

19 Jun
A government foundation in North America that was created to provide funding for novel technologies has been provided $2 billion in assets to further this mission.

The foundation is currently looking for new firms in the life sciences space for potential allocations. Although they do not have a set number of firms they wish to allocate to over the next six to nine months, they typically will provide capital to around 20 firms annually. With that being said, they will allocate to a number of firms over the next 6-9 months if some compelling opportunities are uncovered.   Currently, the foundation is most interested in the biotech space, specifically in firms focused on environmental biotechnology. In particular, the firm is seeking firms that are developing anti-pollution or waste remediation technologies.

The foundation is only looking for companies that are pre-revenue, and thus provide seed funding to these. The foundation is willing to provide up to one-third of the capital required to develop the technology. However, they must demonstrate that they will be able to obtain funding for the remaining two-thirds of the financing.

Hot Life Science Investor Mandate 2: PE Group with Available Dry Powder Seeks CROs – June 20, 2013

19 Jun
A private equity group with offices in the US and Canada recently closed its 3rd fund at around $300 million, and is seeking new life science firms to invest in. The group currently has over $500 million in total assets under management. Although they have no set timeframe to make allocations, they do have a good amount of dry powder on hand, and would make an allocation within the next couple of quarters if a compelling opportunity were identified. They typically write equity checks ranging from $10 million to $30 million.

Currently, the group is most interested in the medtech and biotech R&D services space. Within the medtech space, the firm is very opportunistic, and will look at companies that are developing any kind of device. Within the biotech R&D services space, the firm is particularly seeking partnerships with contract research organizations (CROs).

The group executes recapitalization, growth equity, and buyout transactions. They are currently only looking for companies that have products on the market within the medtech space, and in the biotech R&D sector, they prefer companies that are cash-flow positive. With that being said, the firm is looking for firms whose EBITDA exceeds $4 million.

Hot Life Science Investor Mandate 3: PE Group Interested in Analytical Services, CROs for Upcoming Investments – June 20, 2013

19 Jun
A private equity group based in the Eastern US has over $250 million in total assets under management, has raised three funds, and is currently looking for new investment opportunities in the life sciences space. While the firm has no set time frame to make an investment, they would allocate to a firm within the next 3-6 months if a compelling opportunity were identified. The group typically invests around $5-20 million per company.

Currently, they are looking for firms within the R&D services space. The firm is most interested in analytical services companies, as well as contract research organizations (CROs) that specialize in toxicology, however would consider other companies that fall within the umbrella of the biotech R&D services space as well.

This PE group executes recapitalization, growth equity, and buyout transactions. The firm is only interested in companies that are cash flow positive. With that being said, the firm is looking for firms whose EBITDA is in the $1-10 million range, and has annual revenue that does not exceed $75 million.

Controversial Supreme Court Ruling on Gene Patents has Implications for Health Informatics

19 Jun

By Michael Quigley, Research Analyst, LSN

mike-2The Supreme Courts ruled last week that naturally occurring genes are no longer patentable. The case was brought to the Supreme Court by the American Civil Liberties Union against Myriad Genetics Inc. for their patents on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes (two genes strongly correlated with breast and ovarian cancer) on behalf of researchers, doctors and cancer patients. For many, this ruling was seen as long overdue, as the idea of owning something that nature produces on its own is counter-intuitive. However, prior to this ruling, various companies had patented approximately 20% of the human genome, some of which they held for as long as 30 years. (1)

The largest benefactors of this ruling include diagnostic services companies, who can now test patients for previously patented genes that have a known association with a disease or disorder. Patents will also benefit now that companies are no longer able to have monopolies on the tests for these genes; the prices of these tests for patients – which, for certain indications, can cost more than $3,000 and aren’t always covered by insurance – are already dropping dramatically. (2)

With a likely surge of patients getting tested for the presence of these genes, bioinformatics companies will see a boost in amounts usable patient data for their software programs. Combining that with the fact that screening and sequencing costs are dropping at a rate faster than Moore’s Law for molecules, as well as an increasing number of hospitals going digital with their data, many early-stage investors are looking at health informatics as a potential “megatrend” in the drug discovery and diagnostics space. (3) The idea that software and informatics could be a serious player in the development of novel advancement in this industry is not new. However, with this ruling in place, it seems to be a much more a viable theory.

The opposition to this ruling this stems in part from the fact that without the ability to patent genes, funding for companies that are actively searching for genes correlated to diseases will pull back farther than it already has. With companies unable to patent the genes they discover, these discoveries become much less profitable, and therefore, less attractive to investors. However, the ruling also states that synthetic genes (cDNA) that are derived from natural genes but made synthetically still can be patented. These synthetic genes are often honed versions of their natural counterparts, and are used frequently in therapeutics. The ruling that these synthetics can be patented will actually be an attribute for companies working with them in terms of gathering funding, as investors finally have closure in an issue previously clouded in uncertainty.

It seems obvious that something produced naturally should not be patentable. But if having patents exist encourages investors to fund and push the science forward, the decision becomes more ambiguous. In the end this decision will aid millions by providing them will more affordable medical tests, and further down the road, more personalized treatments as a result of the increased inflow of patient data.

1. Cutler, Kim-Mai. “Supreme Court Ruling On Gene Patenting May Be A Boon For Biotech Startups.TechCrunch RSS. TechCrunch, 17 June 2013. Web. 19 June 2013.

2. Than, Ker. “7 Takeaways From Supreme Court’s Gene Patent Decision.National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 14 June 2013. Web. 19 June 2013.

3. Cutler, Kim-Mai. “SV Angel Says Health Informatics Is One Of Its New “Megatrends”.TechCrunch RSS. TechCrunch, 25 Apr. 2013. Web. 19 June 2013.

Does Firm Location Affect the Likelihood of Funding?

19 Jun

By Danielle Silva, Director of Research, LSN

In the US, there are two states that are known for being hubs for life science firms: Massachusetts and California. For this reason, the two states have logically become capitals for investors in the sector; some of the most well known private equity, venture capital, and angel firms that invest solely in the biotech space are based in either Massachusetts or California. But what happens if your firm is based outside of these two states? Will it be more difficult for your company to raise capital? The answer depends largely on what investor groups your firm is targeting.

Angel groups, for instance, are associations made up of high net-worth individuals that pool their money together in order to make investments in early-stage companies. These groups tend to focus on regional investments. Typically, an angel group’s investment goal will be to help stimulate economic development in a particular region. While some groups may focus on other types of investment themes (for example, investing only in female-owned businesses), most of these firms are regionally focused.

Another reason angels are usually regionally focused is because they tend to have no budget outside of the capital they put aside for investments. These groups also have limited full time staff for the same reason. Because of this, it is very difficult for angel groups to visit companies that are outside of their state. Even if the group does visit a company that is located outside of their state, it would be hard for them to have a company in their portfolio that is located far from their headquarters. Furthermore, angel firms have limited deal flow, and often times will not actually source a good number of deals outside of their state.

Private equity firms and venture capital firms lean towards a more opportunistic approach compared to angels in terms of where firms are located. Both groups certainly have larger budgets, and thus partners are able to travel more to visit attractive investment targets. Many of these groups, however, are operationally focused. Accordingly, many of these firms will favor deals that are close to their company’s headquarters so they can check in on the company and make sure everything is running smoothly. Many venture capital firms now will even act as quasi-incubators, maintaining additional office space for their portfolio companies at their headquarters. This is not only to help their portfolio firms that cannot afford to pay high rent, but also allows investors the ability to offer office space that is close to their own company so they check in on the company more often than they normally would be able to.

So does this mean you have to relocate your firm to Massachusetts or California to be successful? Of course not. Although there are undoubtedly more life science investors in both Massachusetts and California, there are certainly a number of investors located outside of those areas. What firms should do is make a target list of all investors that are located within their general region that invest in life sciences firms. These will be the low-hanging fruit, which a firm raising capital should be reaching out to first to begin with. Also, if the company raising capital is located in an unfavorable area in terms of investor concentration, there is still no need to worry. If the product or service is compelling enough, most investors will be willing to literally step outside of their typical geographical investment mandate and start a dialogue with the company.

Hot Life Science Investor Mandate 1: CROs, CMOs Prime Targets for Opportunistic PE – June 13, 2013

10 Jun

A healthcare investment firm based in the Eastern US, which runs both a private equity fund and a hedge fund, is currently looking for new investment opportunities for their second private equity fund, which recently closed at $200 million. The firm has more than $500 million in assets, and has raised two private equity funds and one hedge fund in the past year. They have plans to invest in 3-5 new firms by the end of 2013, typically making equity investments ranging from $10-25 million.

The firm is currently most interested in firms in the biotech R&D services and medtech space. Within biotech R&D services, the firm is looking for contract research organizations (CRO’s) and contract manufacturing organizations (CMO’s). They have also recently started looking for firms within the medtech space, specifically those that are producing medical devices. The firm mainly invests in US-based companies, but has allocated to international firms in the past; they would consider European firms on a case-by-case basis.

The firm provides growth equity, expansion capital, and engages in buyout and recapitalization transactions. The firm only invests in established, cash-flow-positive companies. With that being said, the firm will not consider any companies in the medtech space that do not currently have a device on the market.

Hot Life Science Investor Mandate 2: VC Arm of Larger Fund Looks to Grow in 2013 – June 13, 2013

10 Jun

A fund located in North America with around $200 million in current AUM will grow to $400 million in assets by the end of 2013. The fund is the venture capital arm of a larger fund with AUM upward of $50 billion. Over the last 12 months, the group has allocated to more than 10 firms, making the VC number one in its region. The firm is currently looking for new opportunities in the life science space within the next 6-9 months. They typically allocate anywhere between $500,000 and $50 million per firm. The group is a lifecycle investor, which allows them to deploy capital throughout a firm’s entire financing lifecycle, and thus participate in every round of financing.

The firm is currently looking for companies in the information provider space, and is particularly interested in healthcare IT firms. The firm has a global investment mandate, but prefers North American targets for allocation.

The firm almost entirely invests in companies that are pre-revenue, but will consider companies that are not cash-flow-positive. The fund will consider firms with products on the market on a discretionary basis, but has no strict requirements in terms of their EBITDA or annual revenue.