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Nanotech, Single-Molecule Methods, Personalized Medicine Remain Top of Mind for Vneture Capitalists

Despite the recently soured economy, venture capitalists have remained relatively optimistic about investment opportunities in the life science research tools and molecular diagnostics sectors, according to industry insiders.

In particular, the VC landscape for life science tools and molecular diagnostics may be buoyed by advances in nanotechnology, particularly nanofluidics, high-throughput and single-molecule genomics and proteomics, and technologies enabling individualized health, venture capitalists from three early-stage life science investment firms told GenomeWeb Daily News recently.

However, the VCs also said that their optimism was tempered by a host of inherent problems with investing in the research tools space – in particular, higher risk aversion among potential acquirers and the lack of an IPO market has dampened the chances of early-stage investors landing a profitable exit. In addition, pending public policy surrounding the way early-stage investments are taxed has the potential to discourage VCs from taking a long-term investment stance, they said.

So how are life science tool investors skirting these issues?

"We're very selective right now with our investments in companies that are going to be extremely capital efficient," Josh Phillips, a general partner with Boston-based Catalyst Health Ventures, told GWDN recently. "We've just launched a new incubator in the medical technology space where we'll be leveraging a single team and doing multiple projects in a very capital-efficient way – outsourcing where we can; reducing overhead; not incurring fixed costs."

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