Tech and Life Sciences Firms in SoCal’s Orange County Raised Over $3.2B in 2023

Yearly totals above decade average, but fourth quarter was lowest since 2015, per JLL

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Life sciences and tech firms in Orange County, Calif., saw above-average funding levels in 2023 despite a meager final quarter and the overall cantankerous capital market.

JLL (JLL)’s fourth-quarter overview report found such companies raised more than $3.2 billion in 2023, mostly via debt financing, post-IPO debt and venture series funding. That’s about 24 percent less than the previous year, but well above the average over the past 10 years.

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Still, 2023 finished on a subdued note, according to JLL, in which tech and life sciences companies in Orange County raised $115 million, the lowest quarterly total since early 2015.

Debt financing and post-IPO debt made up more than 70 percent of the total capital raised throughout 2023, which JLL said highlights the challenging financial climate and intense competition for funding that companies faced throughout the year. Venture series funding — which previously held the largest share — declined to 17 percent of the total. 

The top-funded companies in the fourth quarter were software firm CalAmp as well as two medical device companies: enVVeno Medical and Bright Uro, followed by Kinetic Automation and e-commerce firm Carro.

“In 2023, we felt the effects of intense pressures on biopharma companies to be judicious stewards of capital as VC firms and the public markets retrenched,” according to JLL’s latest national life sciences report. “Heading into 2024, a parallel effort will emerge as the life sciences industry centers itself around maximizing value and scale through space and portfolio optimization and the adoption of cutting-edge technology.”

The report adds that in most major real estate markets, lab availability is expected to increase throughout 2024, creating a tenant’s market. Further, the larger industry is set for significant disruptions due to tech advancements like additive manufacturing, 3D printing, closed-loop continuous systems and AI, all of which have the potential to revolutionize the utilization of real estate.

“Whether you’re a startup or an established company, finding suitable physical space for your operations will likely become easier than ever before,” per JLL. “In 2024, the life sciences industry can expect a transformative landscape characterized by stick-built lab buildings, a shift toward multimodal fuel sources, and integrated technology for operating efficiency.”

Gregory Cornfield can be reached at gcornfield@commercialobserver.com.