Arboretum Ventures in Ann Arbor Seeks Greener Pastures With New $125M Fund

Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor — 

Arboretum Ventures is gonna need a bigger garden.

The early stage investment firm, based in Ann Arbor, MI, plans to raise a new $125 million fund, its third in so many years, according to SEC documents. The company previously pulled together $73 million and $24 million for its first two funds.

Arboretum, which specializes in healthcare startups, has already raised $70.2 million for the new fund, the documents say. Managing Director Tim Peterson did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Arboretum’s fundraising ambitions are a clear departure from the national venture capital market, which is quite weak. In 2010, venture capital firms raised $12.3 billion, a 25 percent drop from the previous year and the lowest dollar amount in seven years, according to Thomson Reuters and the National Venture Capital Association.

Biotech and medical devices, Arboretum’s core industries, accounted for 28 percent of all venture capital dollars invested in 2010 compared to 33 percent in 2009.

However, a venture firm that produces successful returns on investment can raise money from big pension funds and endowments in any economic environment.

And Arboretum is clearly feeling it. Earlier this week, Becton Dickinson (NYSE:BDX) said it would acquire Ann Arbor, MI-based Accuri Cytometers, one of Arboretum’s portfolio companies, for an undisclosed amount.

In 2009, BD purchased HandyLabs, another Arboretum investment, for $275 million. Over the past three years, Arboretum-funded firms VasoNova, HealthMedia, and NeoGuide Systems also found buyers.

Last fall, St. Jude Medical (NYSE:STJ) in Little Canada, MN spent $60 million to acquire a 19 percent stake in CardioMEMS. The deal gives the medical device maker the right to eventually purchase all of CardioMEMS for $375 million, another big potential payday for Arboretum.

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