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Biotechnology companies raised a record $37.2-billion (U.S.) last year from private and public investors, enough to help many of them press on during this technology market downturn, according to BioWorld Today.

The industry newspaper Wednesday released its BioWorld Biotechnology State of the Industry Report 2001, which said biotech companies are under financial pressure but that those currently working on new therapeutics are well positioned to carry on research and development efforts.

Biotech companies are hanging tough because of all the cash poured into them last year.

According to a BioWorld Today spokesman, last year's record $37.2-billion matched the combined annual amounts raised by biotech companies from 1993 to 1999.

"Biotech has never seen anything like that," the spokesman said of last year's investment pace. "A lot of companies that were not able to get through, got through."

According to the spokesman, 58 biotech companies went public in 2000, up from 12 in 1999.

Moreover, biotech initial public offerings last year raised $23.2-billion.

Meanwhile, public biotech companies raised $10.1-billion in 2000 by means other than IPOs, the spokesman said.

Also, venture capitalists last year more than tripled the dollars they put into biotech companies from 1999 levels.

According to the BioWorld Today spokesman, $3.9-billion in venture capital investments were made in biotech companies in 2000, compared $1.1-billion in 1999.

Money was much easier to come by for biotech companies last year than in years before for two major reasons, according to the newspaper's spokesman.

The sequencing of the human genome spurred investor interest, and investors jumped into biotech investments in order to find big payoffs they could no longer find in high-tech companies, the spokesman said.

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