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Biotech business has improved in 2004

By William Patalon III
The Baltimore Sun

After a nearly four-year slowdown, money is beginning to flow again into the biotechnology sector. But it’s more a trickle than a torrent.
During the first six months of this year, initial public offerings raised more than twice what they did in all of 2003. Biotech companies that are already public are going back into the market with secondary offerings, and promising young start-ups are winning venture capitalists’ attention.
At the same time, wary investors are being highly selective and driving harder deals, industry executives and experts say. The upshot: Capital-hungry biotechs — which typically rack up years of losses as they struggle to bring a product to market — are pursuing every strategy they can to secure funds.
“It is a difficult time, and companies are being forced to be very creative,” said Tom Salemi, editor of The Venture Capital Analyst/Healthcare trade journal in Wellesley, Mass.