Biotech Returning To Favor; Companies Strive To Woo VC Investors

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 startups 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.

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