Venture-backed "Big Exits" in the medical device industry were higher in 2011 than for the 4 years prior. Wall Street Beat

Venture-backed M&A activity in 2011 was higher than any other year since 2005, according to a new report tracking trends in lifesciences.

The medical device industry in 2011 had 18 "Big Exits," defined as venture-backed acquisitions where the up-front payment totaled $75 million or more.

"Not only has Big Exit M&A activity increased in number, but in up-front value as well," according to the report. "This positive surge in M&A exit activity has created substantial returns to the venture community."