RiverVest Venture Closes $184M Fund for Backing Healthcare Ventures

Xconomy San Diego — 

RiverVest Venture Partners, a St. Louis, MO-based venture capital firm with additional offices in San Diego, CA, and Cleveland, OH, has raised $184.4 million for its fourth fund dedicated to investing in healthcare companies.

Since its launch, RiverVest has invested in 47 companies working to develop new drugs and medical devices. Nearly half of the businesses in its portfolio have either been acquired or gone public, according to RiverVest.

Among the notable exits was San Diego’s Lumena Pharmaceuticals, which Irish pharmaceutical giant Shire (NASDAQ: SHPG) bought for more than $260 million in 2014. At the time, Lumena’s chairman was RiverVest managing director John McKearn.

RiverVest has also backed Mirum Pharmaceuticals, a new biotech headed by former Lumena CEO Mike Grey. Mirum recently debuted with $120 million in new funding to advance two investigational liver disease drugs.

Other big exits for RiverVest include San Carlos, CA-based Allakos (NASDAQ: ALLK), which raised $127.8 million this year in an initial public offering; Fort Worth, TX-based ZS Pharma, which had an IPO before AstraZeneca bought it out for $2.7 billion in 2015; and Houston,TX-based Idev Technologies, which sold to Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) for $310 million in 2013.

RiverVest has so far invested in eight companies out of its new fund, three of which it founded or co-founded, McKearn said in a prepared statement.

RiverVest said its second and third funds have each returned more than 20 percent annually to limited partners as of Sept. 30. That would put those funds’ performance in the top 5 percent of all venture funds started in the same time period, according to Cambridge Associates’ U.S. Venture Capital Index. The index, which includes data from 1981 and later, tracks more than 1,500 institutional venture capital funds.

RiverVest co-founder and managing director Jay Schmelter said the fund credits its success to a focus on developing biopharma and medical device products for high, unmet medical needs while finding a buyer or being ready for an IPO within three to five years of the initial investment.

The firm said that as of Sept. 30, it had about $753 million worth of assets under management.