Startups

The DMV region raised an eye-popping $5B in venture capital in 2021

With $1 billion raised in Q4 alone, local companies made big money moves last year. ScienceLogic, MPower Financing and Hawkeye 360 took the biggest cuts.

Members of the Expel team.

(Courtesy photo)

Editor’s note: These figures may vary slightly, as some deals aren’t accounted for until weeks after quarterly VC reports are published.


The results are in: With official numbers to back it up, we can now confirm that the DMV had an absolutely bonkers (in a good way) year when it comes to venture capital.

According to data from the PitchBook-NVCA Venture Monitor, a quarterly report produced by PitchBook and the National Venture Capital Association with support from Silicon Valley Bank and Affinity, the area came in a little lower than other quarters in Q4, but significantly higher than numbers for 2020 and previous years.

All in all, DMV companies raised $1.064 billion across 76 deals in Q4, the lowest quarter of the year; Q2 was the top dealmaker at $1.412 billion.  This is almost double the final financial tally of 2020’s Q4, at $625 million across 70 deals, but with an almost identical deal count. That means raises were overall higher in price tag, as opposed to more frequent.

Of this year’s deals, about $170 million came from 24 deals in DC proper, most notably with funding rounds from Optoro and a Series B from Chase Therapeutics. This comes in lower than Q3, which hosted $629 million across 24 deals. (Note that these figures differ slightly from the $631 million we reported for Q3 in October, as deals often don’t close until weeks after the report is released.)

As a whole though, the region had a stellar VC year, with $4.927 billion raised in total across 334 deals. The year saw a huge amount of megarounds, with local companies including ScienceLogic, MPower Financing and Hawkeye 360 taking the largest money moves of the year. This is more than double the not-quite $2 billion raised in all of 2020.

Here are the top 10 deals of Q4:

  1. Clarksburg, Maryland’s autonomous vehicle company Robotic Research landed a $228 million Series A, led by Softbank and Enlightenment Capital.
  2. Geospatial analytics firm HawkEye 360, based in Herndon, Virginia, closed a $145 million in a Series D round. This is on top of $55 million raised in April, bringing its 2021 total to $195 million and overall valuation to $895 million.
  3. Fellow Herdon cybersecurity company Expel raised a $140.3 million Series E round, reaching unicorn status with a valuation of over $1 billion.
  4. Arlington, Virginia media firm Axios raised $84 million, a previously unreported amount, which ups its overall valuation to $430 million.
  5. MANA Therapeutics, an Arlington-based biotech company, raised $50 million in a Series A round in late November.
  6. ShiftMed, a McLean, Virginia-based management platform for healthcare workers, raised $45 million in October.
  7. Optoro, a DC-based data analytics firm for retailers, raised $25 million in a funding round led by Zebra Technologies. Volta Circle, eBay and UPS also participated in the round.
  8. In its second funding round of the year, Gaithersburg, Maryland’s VLP Therapeutics raised $21 million in a Series A-1 round to develop a cancer treatment vaccine.
  9. Chase Therapeutics, a DC pharma company for Parkinson’s Disease treatments, raised a $20 million Series B round led by Hong Kong’s Chinalinka Asia Holdings.
  10. Shift5, the Arlington-based cyber firm for planes, trains and automobiles, raised $20 million in a Series A1 round.

Although it was a lower quarter overall, three of Q4’s top deals landed in the top 10 deals for 2021, according to PitchBook. Robotic Research, in fact, clinched the #1 spot for the biggest deal of the year with its December raise. Talk about saving the best for last: It was still nearly $40 million more than the #2 deal, culinary brand Cava’s $190 million.

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