NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- A total of 21 venture-backed companies went public in the first half of this year, up substantially from the doldrums of last year but still nothing to write home about. Peter Boni, CEO of publicly traded venture capital player Safeguard Scientifics (SFE), however, says the IPO tide may soon be turning with the economy.Boni spoke with TheStreet about the IPO market and the areas where he is seeing the most venture activity. What's the deal-making environment right now in the market? Boni: We are seeing a lot of later-stage companies that are in the life sciences space closer to revenue as opposed to going through the earlier phases of the FDA approval process. And in the technology space, many companies bunkered down during all the disruptions we have had over the past couple of years. They are putting their heads back up from the bunker now, really looking for growth capital. What makes Safeguard Scientifics different from the private venture companies? Boni: We are a holding company. We use our own money, not the monies managed for others. We have a team of C-level executives that have domain experience in tech and life sciences. We are bringing lots of operational support services to the front as well. From an investor's vantage point, you can put in a little bit or a lot. You can get in or out at any time. And this is New York Stock Exchange ( NYX) governance, so you get greater transparency. What companies has Safeguard taken public recently? Boni: Tengion ( TNGN) just went public. This is a transformational regenerative medicines company. And NuPathe ( PATH), a specialty pharmaceutical company, went public recently on the Nasdaq ( NDAQ - Get Report), so we have been very busy. When you look across the portfolio of companies at Safeguard Scientifics, which technology company do you consider most promising right now? Boni: We have a variety that we are very happy with in the tech space. We have some IT health care firms, Portico Systems and Advantedge Healthcare Solutions. Both play into the regulatory environment that is changing. Regulatory compliance is one of our driving themes. In the Internet and new media space, MediaMath is a digital advertising firm that has an exchange that will enable a display ad to do what Google ( GOOG) does with keywords and phrases, to personalize the placement of an ad to make it worthy of the advertising dollars being spent. What are you looking at in the life sciences arena? Boni: Diagnostics, devices and drug delivery is where we spend our time. New biotherapeutics and new meds require a billion dollars and 10 years' time, and 90% of those initiatives fail. There is plenty of room for home runs in diagnostics, devices and drug delivery systems. It's a less onerous FDA approval process and much less expensive. That's where we are spending our time. -- Reported by Gregg Greenberg in New York.
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