A decline in U.S. venture capital financing in the second half of 2016 resulted in the fewest number of VC deals for Minnesota companies in a dozen years.
For the year in the state, there were 23 venture capital deals, raising $339.4 million, according to data from the PricewaterhouseCoopers/CB Insights MoneyTree report. It was the lowest number of such deals since 2005, which saw only 20 deals, and the lowest amount raised since the $267.9 million from 39 deals in 2013.
For the second quarter in a row, the number of venture capital deals in Minnesota has declined. The three deals in Minnesota during the fourth quarter of 2016 were the fewest since the second quarter of 2010.
Nationally, the number of deals declined 14 percent from the third quarter to the fourth, and the amount raised declined 17 percent in that period. For all of 2016, 4,520 deals raised $58.6 billion, down 16 and 20 percent, respectively, from 2015's annual totals.
Anand Sanwal, co-founder and CEO of CB Insights, a New York-based data analytics firm, said 2016 compares better with 2014.
"For those who predicted 2016 would be the popping of the venture bubble, it was not," Sanwal wrote in a release. "Yes, it was a tougher year in terms of deal activity and funding, but vs. 2014, which we can call a more normal period, 2016 compares quite favorably."
Tom Ciccolella, U.S. venture capital leader at PwC, said in a release: "Despite continued deceleration in venture capital investment activity, the start-up ecosystem remains flush with quality deals."
The three state deals in the fourth quarter raised $56 million, which was 59 percent more than what the five deals in the third quarter raised, said the MoneyTree report. That total was $35.2 million.
Maple Grove-based Inspire Medical Systems raised $37.5 million from six venture capital partners in the fourth quarter. Inspire Medical Systems makes an FDA-approved implantable neurostimulation system that treats obstructive sleep apnea.
Hopkins-based MedNet Solutions raised $16.5 million in its second round of VC funding. MedNet Solutions raised $4 million from its first outside investment in July 2014. The health care technology company specializes in electronic data capture and clinical study management systems.
Minneapolis-based TrackIF raised $2 million. TrackIF, now known as My Alerts, is a free service that allows online shoppers to control alerts from sites they visit. It helps track products that shoppers are interested in and alerts them when those products become available or go on sale.
The deal for Inspire Medical represents Minnesota's traditional strength in the medical device category. MedNet's deal played in two of the hottest national venture capital categories in the fourth quarter: health care and software.
Nationally, internet companies had the most deals with 462 and also raised the most money at $4.6 billion. Besides health care and software categories, mobile and telecom also had a good quarter.
Venture capital-backed private companies valued at more than $1 billion once were so rare that they were called unicorns. No more, but the pace of growth in the category has slowed. Venture capitalists created four new unicorns in the fourth quarter, the same as in the third quarter. In the third quarter of 2015, they added 16 to the U.S. total, which now stands at 101.
The number of mega-rounds of venture capital investments, $100 million or more in one round, slowed in the fourth quarter. There were 11 financing deals that raised more than $100 million, down from 15 in the previous quarter.