Cure for dot-com fever?

High-technology companies are drawing so much interest that a lot of other investment opportunities just don’t seem to be getting a hearing. The next wave, however, could be in a segment that favors Pittsburgh as a front runner.

“If we have a sleeping giant, it would be biotechnology,” says Sean Sebastian, managing principal of Birchmere Investments.

After a strong showing in earlier years, investments in health care companies have fallen off. In the third quarter of 1999, the sector that had smashed all previous records for investments by venture firms, accounted for just $3 million in venture capital deals in Western Pennsylvania, less than 7 percent of the total, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Redleaf, for instance, focuses exclusively on Internet companies, and most of the other venture funds are laden with technology companies.

But with successes like Respironics, Automated Healthcare and Medrad in the region, a world-class medical research institution and a several companies that show promise in the biotech segment, there’s no reason why the health care companies can’t mount a resurgence.

Ray Marano