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South Florida cancer-fighting companies led venture funding in Q1, MoneyTree report shows

 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Two South Florida biotech companies targeting cancer and an education-technology startup led Florida venture capital deals in the first quarter, according to a MoneyTree report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and CB Insights released Wednesday.

Florida deals in the quarter were led by F1 Oncology in West Palm Beach, an early-stage biotech company that raised $37 million from F1 BioVentures, Sinobioway and SunTerra Capital. Miramar-based Altor Bioscience raised $30 million from Sanderling Ventures. Aventura-based Nearpod, which creates educational content for students, raised $21 million from AGP Miami, GSV Acceleration, Insight Venture Partners, Krillion Ventures and Reach Capital. Aerospace company Moon Express of Cape Canaveral, created to mine the moon, brought in $20 million.

Florida companies took in 24 venture capital deals worth $156.9 million in the first quarter and nearly half of the total – $74.3 million – was in healthcare, according to MoneyTree. That compares with 25 deals worth $855.3 million in the same quarter a year ago, when mixed-reality technology company Magic Leap’s $793.5 million dominated investments in that quarter.

Other South Florida companies that received investment in the first quarter included fintech company Nymbus ($16 million), e-commerce startup Iguama ($5 million), packaging forwarding compay Aeropost ($4 million) and Biscayne Pharmaceuticals ($3 million), which is developing epilepsy treatments.

Nationally, investors deployed $13.9 billion to U.S. VC-backed startup companies across 1,104 deals, up 15 percent in dollars and 2 percent in deals from Q4 2016, according to the MoneyTree survey. These figures represent a slight recovery from Q4 2016, where startup investment figures bottomed out as part of an ongoing retreat from the peaks of 2015. A boost in mega-round activity contributed to the jump in quarterly dollars, although the total of $13.9 billion remains the second-lowest quarterly total across the past two years. MoneyTree Report results can be found at www.pwcmoneytree.com.

“We are seeing the U.S. funding environment slip into its new normal – 2015 was irrationally exuberant and the 2016 pullback was a reaction to that,” said Anand Sanwal, co-founder and CEO of CB Insights. “However, 2016 was more of a soft landing than a wholesale popping of the venture bubble which pundits have been predicting since 2009. There continue to be new sources of capital and strong corporate interest, and that is evident in the Q1 numbers. A number of large acquisitions and some early IPO activity also portends good things for VC-backed companies.”

Last week, Pitchbook and the National Venture Capital Association put out a report using different methodology as to which size, stage and type of deals it includes but reported similar trends. That report found that $244.19 million flowed into 63 deals during the first quarter in Florida. Nationally, the PitchBook-NVCA Venture Monitor found, investors deployed $16.5 billion to 1,797 venture-backed startups, marking a slight uptick in capital invested over the fourth quarter of 2016, but the fewest companies to receive investment since the fourth quarter of 2011.

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg

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