Maine companies saw the highest venture capital investment in 2017 in more than a decade, a report released Wednesday found.
Three of the state’s businesses pulled in a total of $228.78 million, the highest amount since 1995, when the MoneyTree Report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and CB Insights started tracking the figures.
“The amount was driven off of a mega-deal in the third quarter by Vets First Choice,” said Greg Vlahos, partner at PwC in San Jose, California.
Vets First Choice, a Portland-based online portal for veterinarians and their clients to order pet prescriptions and other products, raised $223 million in the third quarter of 2017, the state’s largest single venture deal in the past two decades.
There were two deals in the fourth quarter, both by Tilson Technology Management Inc., a Portland-based network services company, totaling $5 million, the report found. One deal closed in the first quarter, for $773,000 in NBT Solutions, a Portland information technology and geographic information system company.
Maine ranked 31st in the amount invested in 2017 and 30th nationally in terms of the number of deals.
With little capital available in Maine compared to neighboring states like Massachusetts, Maine companies are looking for money outside the state. The Vets First Choice fundraising was led by investors in New York and Beijing.
“Venture capital investors are looking for any unique, game-changing or interesting company, regardless of location,” Vlahos said. “It’s not so much a state saying it is open for business as it is individual companies selling themselves as having disruptive technology by touring Boston and Silicon Valley venture funds and being able to sell themselves.”
Vlahos said Maine is following national venture capital trends, with fewer, yet larger, deals. Last year was the second year on record in which total funding topped $70 billion. However, the number of deals was down 4 percent to 5,052, the lowest annual total since 2012.
Another venture capital tracker, the PitchBook-National Venture Capital Association Venture Monitor, found similar trends in 2017 with $84 billion in deals, the highest level since the dot-com bubble from 1997 to 2001.
The MoneyTree and PitchBook figures differ because of the way each firm counts investors and the timing of deals, Vlahos said.
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