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Departure, Delays Signal Tough Times For Device Investors

This article was originally published in Start Up

Executive Summary

Medical device investment - both in dollars and number of deals - are the lowest they've been in years. But another point of worry comes when venture capital firms begin shrinking not just their portfolios but their device teams as they lose interest in an area.

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At Elsevier Business Intelligence's IN3 conference in October 2012, a panel of venture capital investors talked about the current difficult financing climate for medtech start-ups, although a ray of hope lights the future.

START-UP’s 2012 Medical Device Census

Our data-driven review of the portfolios of more than two dozen leading medical device VCs show that the median life span of venture-backed companies hovers at seven years. Younger medtech companies are getting by – and getting farther in the regulatory process – with less capital, reflecting the current state of an industry that sees a whole lot of belt tightening in its future.

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Two high-profile VCs, CMEA Capital and Atlas Venture, are trying their hands at asset financing, an investment strategy that prioritizes single drug programs over companies and is becoming, at least theoretically, possible to do in a more systematic way. That's because big drug companies have cut internal R&D staff, often in drastic measure, and they want someone to share the development risk of drugs now sitting idle on their shelves.

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