PhillyInc: Dollars were down, deals up in the fourth quarter

Posted: January 23, 2013

Dollars were down, but deals were up in the fourth quarter, according to the latest statistics on venture capital activity in the Philadelphia area.

Forty-three companies in a region that the PricewaterhouseCoopers/ National Venture Capital Association MoneyTree Report considers the Philadelphia area raised $54.43 million in the last three months of 2012. That compares with 29 companies that attracted $127.67 million in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Before I could wring my hands over the trend, PricewaterhouseCoopers partner Matthew Abbott told me that he saw two positive things in the numbers.

First, much of the action locally was in the software sector, which typically sops up most of the venture investment nationally.

In fact, five of the 10 biggest deals locally came from the software industry: $5.4 million for ThingWorx Inc., of Exton; $4.3 million each for Princeton's Connected Sports Ventures Inc. and King of Prussia's Greenphire Inc.; $2.0 million for Xtium Inc., also of King of Prussia; and $1.8 million for RightCare Solutions Inc., of Fort Washington.

Second, 29 deals locally involved businesses in the early stages of their development, compared with six companies in expansion mode and eight considered "later stage," nearing the point where they might be acquired or go public. Abbott sees the emphasis on early stage as a vote of confidence in area entrepreneurs who are starting new businesses.

While financings are taking longer to complete, Abbott said the deals that do get done tend to involve people with prior successes.

That certainly describes the biggest local financing in the last three months of 2012. Galera Therapeutics Inc., a biotechnology firm that moved to Malvern from Missouri late in 2012, raised $11 million in November    .

Formed around St. Louis-grown technology, Galera relocated its headquarters to Chester County when it hired Mel Sorensen as president and CEO. A former GlaxoSmithKline exec, Sorensen most recently led the venture-backed Ascenta Therapeutics Inc., a Malvern cancer drug developer that has been winding down its operating activities after successfully licensing its technology, including a transaction valued at up to $398 million with Sanofi in June 2010.

Sorensen said Galera, which still has some operations in the St. Louis area, employs fewer than 10 people. The venture funding will be used to expand clinical development of its small molecule drugs to treat cancer and fibrosis.

 


Contact Mike Armstrong

at 215-854-2980 or marmstrong@phillynews.com, or @PhillyInc on Twitter. Read his blog, "PhillyInc," at www.phillyinc.biz.

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