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Influx Of Venture Capital Pumps Up Orange County Med-Tech Space

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Orange County enjoyed a banner year for med-tech venture capital in 2015, with 25 deals bringing a total of $366.2M to OC businesses. Bisnow caught up with JLL EVP David Cantwell (here on vacation in France with his wife, Teya), a specialist in med-tech leasing, who tells us med-tech is one of OC’s most vibrant employment sectors, with new companies setting up or expanding space here because there is a highly trained med-tech workforce.

Of the $366.2M in VC funding, $203.3M was for manufacturing medical device/equipment firms; $137.3M for firms providing healthcare services; and $25.6M for biotechnology companies, according to a new JLL report

“There is a critical mass of med-tech human resources," David tells us. So companies know they can find skilled labor and management professionals in Orange County. For example, David says Edwards Lifesciences’ SAPIEN heart valves are handmade by very skilled workers with two years of training before they can make a heart valve for use in humans. UC Irvine School of Business supports this sector’s need for highly trained med-tech professionals through its graduate biotechnology management and engineering programs, he says.

As a result, vacant office space is filling up with biotech firms, and developers are building more lab and clean-tech space to accommodate firms entering the market and startups, David says. He tells us this type of space can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars/SF to build and not only creates high-paying biotech jobs, but also good-paying construction jobs.

Irvine firms received the highest most funding at $251.6M, followed by San Clemente firms at $53M, and Aliso Viejo companies at $42.5M. The top five firms receiving VC funding in 2015 were:

  • Alphaeon ($107.1M), which provides healthy lifestyle products and services;
  • Axonics Modulation Technologies ($55.8M), which manufactures implantable medical devices (Irvine HQ above);
  • Reshape Medical ($38M), which recently received FDA approval for a new non-surgical weight-loss system;
  • Jenavalve Technology ($26M), which produces customizable transcatheter systems to treat aortic valve stenosis and valve insufficiency; and
  • Inari Medical ($18.5M), a startup pioneering interventional devices for treating vascular thrombi and emboli.