The Nasdaq high-technology stock market has just finished its worst year ever, and biotechnology stocks have been hit particularly hard over the past few weeks. But raising money for biotechnology ideas has never been easier, visitors to the sector's annual financial jamboree were told.
According to Wall Street analysts at the J. P. Morgan H&Q Healthcare conference in San Francisco last week, opportunities to develop new ideas in biotech are as strong as ever. Venture funding is robust, and commercial companies with cash available are also looking to invest.
Even though biotechnology stocks fell towards the end of 2000, many companies had used the positive market of the previous 12 months to strengthen their financial position. Biotechnology concerns raised an estimated $35 billion in total during 2000, making it a record year.
In the third quarter of 2000, venture capitalists put $708 million into biotechnology companies, according to Pricewaterhouse Coopers: 150% more than in the same period of 1999.
The meeting also heard that a new subsector is emerging: 'post-genomics' companies, developing analytical techniques and high-speed technology to accelerate the translation of genomics into drug therapies. Robert Olan, a biotechnology analyst for J. P. Morgan H&Q in New York, said that universities have become more sophisticated about licensing agreements, and competition for their inventions has increased.