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COVID-19, recession haven’t slowed venture capital deals in Mass.

More than $4.2 billion was invested in 176 deals from April through June

Big investments in life sciences companies drove the region's strong performance in venture capital.
Big investments in life sciences companies drove the region's strong performance in venture capital.Shutterstock

Venture capital continued to flow into Massachusetts companies during the first wave of the COVID-19 crisis, as investors sank money into highly valued private life-sciences companies in spite of an emerging recession that shuttered much of the economy.

A pair of industry reports released this week provided a snapshot of this year’s second quarter, which ran from April through June — a period that had been closely watched for signs the turbulence would disrupt investors’ appetites for stakes in startups.

The top-line numbers, so far, show the region has weathered the challenging circumstances relatively well. The quarterly PwC/CB Insights MoneyTree report on venture investment showed Greater Boston was one of only a few metro areas to to see financing increase from the first quarter to the second.

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And research released by the National Venture Capital Association and the data firm PitchBook showed that New England made up a bigger proportion of US venture deals this year than it did in the second quarter of 2019. The region accounted for 13.3 percent of the dollar value of US venture investments from April to June, compared with 7.5 percent during the same period last year.

In Massachusetts, the PitchBook report said, venture investors put more than $4.2 billion into startups over 176 deals. The quarterly value of those deals was the highest the report found looking as far back as 2014.

The CB Insights report indicated that the growth in the state was boosted by a handful of very large deals including life sciences, pharmaceutical, and health care companies — some of the region’s key strengths.

The largest deal in the quarter, the report said, was a $300 million financing for the agriculture-tech firm Indigo Ag. That was followed by a $230 million investment in the insurance-tech company Duck Creek Technologies and a $215 million round for antiviral drug maker Atea Pharmaceuticals.

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There were some signs in the national data provided by PitchBook that the environment could be getting more challenging for smaller companies that are looking for investments to fuel the first steps in their growth. Investment in early-stage companies across the United States, at $18.1 billion so far this year, is off the pace of the previous two years.

PitchBook analysts said they expected to see investors “double down on higher-performing portfolio companies and quickly cut their losses on troubled startups, eliminating many of the early-stage deals they might have completed otherwise.”


Andy Rosen can be reached at andrew.rosen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @andyrosen.