Sofinnova Ventures splits its time and money between the life sciences and IT. The firm has completed 17 deals so far this year, with half of its $375 million fund still waiting to be doled out. The company steers clear of cleantech, medical device developers and the like, preferring to invest in drug developers with candidates being prepped for the clinic or already undergoing clinical trials. That being said, vaccines, dental meds and me-too drugs are not at the top of their wish list. Sofinnova looks for drug candidates that treat an unmet medical need or novel candidate in oncology, neurology or dermatology. The group is also interested in antibody development and protein therapeutics. Fund managers at Sofinnova approach their work with an understanding that the business involves maintaining an 80-20 balance between the people and the science. "This is really a job about finding high quality people," General Partner Mike Powell explains. "The trick is to actually associate, identify and work with the best people. I jokingly tell my partners if you find really good people it doesn't guarantee that you'll make money, but if you work with people that are not good, you're guaranteed to lose money." Which is probably why the group primarily finds potential investments through friends and associates. "If they come with a high recommendation from someone I know it makes my job much easier," says Powell, a Genentech and Syntex alum who built up a large network during his 25 years in the life sciences industry. But knowing someone who knows someone is, of course, not enough. Sofinnova looks for teams with "great arbitrage," explains Powell. "Companies trying to build value by not just throwing money at the problem, but bringing in others and working to do things more efficiently." As for life post-VC, IPOs are out of the question; the "IPO window" no longer exists, asserts Powell. Like many VC firms nowadays, Sofinnova invests with the assumption that the company will be prepped for a buyout. "I don't think they're coming back anytime soon, nor do my partners," Powell says. "Don't plan the IPO-is-my-savior thing, because it's not."