Life Sciences Still Volatile, But Opportunities ‘Off the Charts’

Shannon Beeman
April 13, 2011

Paul McCreadie, Principal of Ann Arbor Michigan based Arboretum Ventures, minces no words when describing the current life sciences investment climate. “Our deal flow for new potential opportunities for investment is off the charts,” he said. “There are a lot of tremendous opportunities.“

Arboretum, which has nearly $100 million under management for investment in medical devices, health care service companies and diagnostics and tools, maintains a focus on the Midwest and Michigan in particular. “We’ve had a lot of success for Michigan and Midwest companies, and plan going forward that that’s going to maintain a significant portion of our portfolio,” said McCreadie.

While he concedes that capital is more widely available on the East and West coasts, McCreadie notes that there is significantly more competition for those funds among companies. In Michigan, he says, the story is different: fundraising is more difficult, but the pool of companies is smaller. That’s what makes it such a lucrative locale for the firm – but it’s also a tough one. “What is always a challenge within Michigan is how you attract more capital to the state,” said McCreadie. “We certainly have a growing venture community, but we don’t have a venture community that is of a size yet that is really self-sustaining. Capital is hard to come by; it all flows down because venture funds themselves are facing challenging times raising new money, and because of that, there are fewer companies they can invest in.”

McCreadie will lead a health care panel at this year’s Michigan Growth Capital Symposium (MGCS). While the contributors and topics of discussion are still in development, they will be relevant to investors as well as entrepreneurs. “I intend to bring others from outside the state. It is an event that gets attention from people beyond Michigan, and it’s a good opportunity when we have an event like this to get on people’s calendars,” he said. “If they’re looking for a reason to come back to Michigan, we’ll make it worth their while.”

Arboretum has long been a supporter of the MGCS, and encourages its portfolio companies to participate in the Symposium. McCreadie noted that there are likely to be several of the firm’s new investments participating this year for the first time. “It’s a well-attended, national event,” he said. “From our perspective, for any of our companies, whether they’re actively fundraising or just want to get their name out there, it’s just a great platform. We’ve seen it within our own fund and the successes that we’ve had. There are a lot of great opportunities here and great companies, and trying to find that additional capital to help fund even more of them is something that we’re all intent on doing, and we’ll all collectively benefit from.”