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Life sciences VC firm launches 'crowdfunding' site for limited crowd

Posted May 20, 2013

By Ryan McBride

Investors have activated a new "crowdfunding" website for life sciences deals. Dubbed VentureHealth, the website aims to expand the number of deep-pocketed players who are actively investing in medical technology startups as some traditional sources wilt.

Medtech industry veteran Mir Imran has launched VentureHealth with fellow partners from InCube Ventures, a Silicon Valley VC firm that invests in life sciences companies. VentureHealth stands out from other crowdfunding sites because its founders are "professional investors," they said in a May 17 release. And the website has already helped Channel Medsystems, a developer of cryoablation technologies, score $875,000 toward a planned $9.7 million Series B round.

VentureHealth has emerged after some traditional VC firms pulled out of the life sciences field, which spooks some investors with high regulatory and technical risks. The dearth of VC activity has triggered a drop in early rounds of financing for biomed startups. Last year life science startups in the U.S. found $6.2 billion in equity investment in 551 deals, a 19% fall in dollars and 12% drop in deals from 2011, according to Dow Jones VentureSource data.

"Venture capital for early stage life sciences companies has dried up in the last few years, and promising companies are always looking for investors," VentureHealth co-founder Imran, who has founded more than 20 companies, said. "VentureHealth has the potential to change how healthcare innovations are funded, which is a win for both entrepreneurs and investors."

Why should others use the crowdfunding site to step into the life sciences field that some of the pros abandoned? Well, VentureHealth isn't inviting the average 401K owner to use the website. It aims to attract "qualified" investors such as physicians and angel backers with the money and the backgrounds to make educated bets on life sciences startups.

Healthcare entrepreneurs have followed the consumer tech set, which have advanced sites such as Crowdfunder and Microventures, into the crowdfunding fray. Healthfundr and Medstartr, to name a couple of sites,, offer healthcare startups an online platform to seek equity investments, as The Wall Street Journal reported.

In a recent interview, biotech legend Henri Termeer of Genzyme fame predicted that crowdfunding would increase as patients and others seek ways to invest in new treatments.

"The way technology allows people to communicate creates opportunities that I think will allow broadly mentioned crowd-funding to become a reality in a highly specific way," Termeer told FierceBiotech. 

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