The kinds of startups Canaan Partners is looking to invest in

Hey, startups: I chatted this week at the J.P. Morgan conference with Brent Ahrens of Canaan Partners about the venture firm’s recent $675 million fund – it’s tenth and largest – and who they’re looking to fund. The majority will be doled out to the tech space, but the remaining – some $220 million – is allocated to […]

Hey, startups: I chatted this week at the J.P. Morgan conference with Brent Ahrens of Canaan Partners about the venture firm’s recent $675 million fund – it’s tenth and largest – and who they’re looking to fund.

The majority will be doled out to the tech space, but the remaining – some $220 million – is allocated to life sciences. About 60 percent of that will be invested in biotech, 25 percent into medical device and the remaining to health IT.

In the lifecycle of involvement in a startup, Canaan invests about $12 million to $15 million, Ahrens said. It’s a firm that sticks to seed and Series A rounds, picking assets and indications and placing the C-level leadership from the ground up. It veers away from indications that take a lot of capital to get to market, focusing on the low-hanging drugs that can be developed for under $30 million.

Canaan leans toward oncology and anti-infection startups: Of the past 10 antibiotics that have been approved, Canaan’s funded four of ’em, Ahrens said. It’s also heavily vested in oncology, the “fallen angels of pharma,” and medical device companies that have worked out the reimbursement issues right at the outset.

Canaan’s last fund, worth $650 million, was in 2011. The firm’s actively looking to invest over the next three years – and “almost all the money’s left.”