M&A, Market, Venture

By the numbers: Series A rounds are busting out, platforms are in, M&A is down, valuations surge and 2018 looks wicked big

Every 6 months we seem to get a new round of record numbers for biopharma. And H1 is no exception. 

Silicon Valley Bank crunched the financial data for the industry’s first 6 months of the year and came away with some startling conclusions:

  • Series A rounds are exploding. In H1 there were $2.6 billion in biopharma launch rounds, compared to $2.3 billion for all of last year.
  • Platform companies are all the rage these days, hitting oncology-level performance.
  • Life sciences venture investing is likely to exceed the record $17.3 billion set last year. And I’ll add here that PitchBook just put the 6-month figure at $12.6 billion for the first half, which underscores the red-hot numbers for 2018.
  • And we already know that SVB’s IPO count hit 30 for the first half, compared to 31 for all of last year. And there’s no indication that that is slowing appreciably now that the July 4 holidays are behind us.
  • It’s not unusual in this environment that SVB has tracked 75 VC-backed unicorns over the past 5 years. And with the investors getting blockbuster returns on these outsized valuations, there’s new money to go back into new investments.
  • With unicorns and others attracting previously unheard of valuations, the bigger numbers are proving daunting to the M&A crowd, dragging back acquisitions. 

Source: SVB

These kinds of numbers will only further stoke the debate about whether biopharma is experiencing an intoxicating bubble or entering a new era of therapeutic breakthroughs as Big Pharma becomes increasingly dependent on smaller players for innovation.

But there’s no denying the fact that biotech cash is flowing faster than ever, as the new IPO from Rubius today helps underscore.


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