The Washington Post

Report: Washington area firms raise $418M in venture capital during second quarter

Local firms raised more money from venture capitalists during the second quarter of the year than in any three-month period since before the economic downturn, according to an industry report published last week.

The second quarter brought $418.2 million to the coffers of local companies in 29 separate deals. That’s more than double the $203.2 million collected by 34 firms during the same three-month period in 2012.

An even more eye-catching statistic: The amount of venture capital invested in area firms during the first six months of this year totals $704.5 million. In 2012, the region raked in $735.5 million over the course of the entire year.

The figures were released Friday in a quarterly report published by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association. Thomson Reuters provided the data.

The report defines the Washington region as Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District.

“For this region, there’s no two ways about it. It’s a very encouraging quarter,” said Brad Phillips, director of emerging company services for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The regional total was pushed higher by a pair of big-ticket financings during the quarter.

Bethesda-based Precision for Medicine, a service provider for life sciences companies, collected $150 million from investors, including J.H. Whitney & Co. and Oak Investment Partners.

Blacksburg-based Intrexon, which filed forms to go public earlier this month, collected $85.6 million in the second quarter as part of a $150 million fund raise announced in May. The firm also has offices in Germantown.

Those deals helped the biotechnology industry attract more venture capital than any other sector during the quarter, garnering a total of $245 million in five investment deals. IT services was a distant second, raising $78.5 million across nine deals.

The surge comes at a time when the venture capital industry is constricting as investors find it difficult to raise money from their own financial backers, called limited partners, and as a result cannot fund as many start-ups.

But one promising statistic in the quarterly report shows that local early-stage firms attracted the largest number of deals (12) and the biggest sum of investment dollars ($174.6 million). That indicates that the most promising companies can still secure capital even as the industry endures a rough period.

Phillips at PricewaterhouseCoopers said the recent increase in initial public offerings and mergers and acquisitions, mechanisms by which venture capitalists recoup their investment, may also be prompting investors to loosen their purse strings. That could keep capital flowing through the end of the year.

Steven Overly is a national reporter covering federal technology and energy policy with a focus on Capitol Hill. He previously covered the business of technology, biotechnology and venture capital.
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