Ohio’s breaking records for VC investment in tech startups. So is the rest of the country.

Columbus Business First
Forge Biologics Inc

Forge Biologics Inc. of Grove City had Ohio’s largest single VC round of the first half of 2021, according to a Business First analysis (and adjustment) of the latest quarterly report from PitchBook and National Venture Capital Association.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (COLUMBUS BUSINESS FIRST)–Ohio tech companies, driven by Central Ohio, already have broken the state’s full-year record for venture capital investment with more than five months to go.

Still, Ohio’s standing in the national VC world hasn’t budged.

Investments of $1.1 billion through June 30, including the record $782 million in the second quarter, still represent 0.8% of the U.S. total for the year, according to Business First’s analysis of the latest quarterly report from PitchBook Data and the National Venture Capital Association.

That doesn’t include two July 1 deals for Columbus companies: $400 million to Olive AI Inc. and $56 million to Physna Inc., which will make the third-quarter report and push the total past $1.5 billion to date.

The state set its full-year record of $1.11 billion last year, just topping $1.08 billion in 2019, the first time it broke a billion barriers, according to the NVCA/PitchBook data. Former trade group Venture Ohio said the state set all-time records in the mid-2010s; NVCA shows a high of $532 million in 2014.

In that time, Ohio’s biggest slice of the national VC pie was 1.4% in the third quarter of 2019.

That’s because VC is exploding everywhere. Deals totaled a staggering $150 billion nationwide for the first half, the report said, almost as much as the U.S. full-year record.

Startups in the San Francisco Bay Area alone together raised $54.5 billion of that, the report shows. At that pace, they’ll break that region’s full-year record of $66.4 billion from 2018 in the middle of this quarter, the Silicon Valley Business Journal reports.

Despite all the talk of startups and talent fleeing Silicon Valley and San Francisco, both still command 36% of all VC investments in 2021 to date, Business First’s sister paper said. Menlo Park, Mountain View, and Palo Alto each attracted more venture funding than 47 states.

VC investing nationwide is almost certain to exceed $200 billion for the first time ever this year, Jeff Grabow, EY’s U.S. VC leader, told the Silicon Valley paper.

“When you think of the uncertainty at the beginning of the pandemic last year, that’s pretty mind-boggling,” he said.

Ohio’s biggest deal through June 30 was $120 million to gene therapy startup Forge Biologics Inc. in Grove City, in the portfolio of Columbus VC firm Drive Capital. Next comes $100 million each to digital lending platform Lower and Battelle cell and gene therapy spinoff AmplifyBio.

The PitchBook total of $200 million for AmplifyBio includes $100 million of in-kind property and labor from research giant Battelle; the other half was VC cash. Thus Business First’s total of $1.06 billion for the first six months differs from the report’s $1.16 billion.

Top individual Ohio deals in the first and second quarter reports also include $80 million to Beam Dental, $56 million to Path Robotics Inc., and $50 million each to Branch Financial Inc. and Circulo Inc., all in Columbus. Of those, only Branch isn’t in Drive’s portfolio.

The year’s only disclosed deal over $50 million to date that’s not in Central Ohio was $55 million to Oculi in Beavercreek.

Explore the latest Venture Monitor and past reports here.

For more business headlines, go to ColumbusBusinessFirst.com.

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