University Startup Investment is Booming

Investment rounds in university-based startups are getting larger and are coming in earlier stages of development, according to Osage University Partners (OUP), a venture capital fund that has raised more than $600 million and has invested in 125 university-based startups.

OUP recently held a webinar on the topic of trends in university startup investing.

You can watch it here:


Some highlights include:

Life sciences

  • Life Science investments have doubled every two years since 2017.
  • Venture capital firms in the healthcare space raised over $30 billion in 2021, while deploying $14 billion in investments with a trend towards larger rounds to support clinical-stage development and larger early-round financing.
  • One negative development is poor initial public stock offering performance of biopharma companies. Pre-money value and IPO proceeds declined from 2020 to 2021, with performance after IPO down 21 percent, which resulted in a slowing of investment in the second half of the year.
  • All life science focus areas are seeing increased investment with the exception of orphan/rare diseases.
  • 2021 was a record year for medical device investment with an average deal size of $8.1 million
  • The most deals in 2021 were for non-invasive monitoring technologies. The focus area with the most money invested was for imaging technologies, with $1.2 invested.
  • Diagnostic technologies saw a big increase in investment in 2020 and 2021, largely due to the pandemic.
  • Computational analytics investment is growing strongly, bringing together both tech and life science investment firms.
  • Cell and gene therapy companies are attracting significantly more investment than small molecules.

Information Technology and Physical Sciences

  • Size of investment rounds is growing significantly, with the exception of angel rounds, which are stagnant in recent years, but grew slightly in 2021.
  • Software and physical sciences investments nearly doubled in 2021 from 2020, while deal numbers are down, indicating significantly larger funding rounds.
  • Significant growth was seen in EV batteries and semiconductor design.
  • Fortune 500 companies setting net zero-emission goals to combat climate change has created; a large jump since 2018 in CleanTech investment with a huge spike in 2021 to $5.5 billion.

Pitt investigators who are interested in exploring the commercial potential of their discoveries can do so in the Pitt Ventures First Gear program. The next cohort begins May 12.

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