Using the (AlGaIn)(AsSb) material system, VECSELs covering the 2 – 3 μm wavelength range can be realized. The best laser performance of GaSb-based VECSELs was achieved so far at emission wavelengths around 2.0 μm with a slope efficiency of more than 30 %, a low threshold pump power density of 1.1 kW/cm2 at 20°C heatsink temperature and concomitant a high output power exceeding 7 W in CW operation (depending on the mounting technology). These parameters were degrading significantly for longer wavelength devices emitting around 2.5 μm and 2.8 μm. But for applications like the generation of MWIR light (3-8 μm) by pumping ZGP-OPOs, high-power VECSELs around 2.5 μm are required to suppress absorption losses, while for medical laser treatment, high-power operation near the water absorption peak at around 2.9 μm is desirable. We will present results of our ongoing research strand for further optimization of the semiconductor heterostructure design of ≥ 2.5 μm emitting GaSb-based VECSELs. By using a low quantum deficit design (i.e. optical pumping at around 1.5 μm) in combination with highly strained QWs (compressive strain 2.1 %) we were able to realize a 2.5 μm emitting VECSEL with a slope efficiency above 30 %, corresponding to an external quantum efficiency exceeding 50 %, and a low threshold pump power density of 0.8 kW/cm2. These values are as good as those for the best performing 2.0 μm VECSELs. With a frontside SiC heatspreader and operated in a standard linear cavity, over 7 W of CW output power were achieved for this 2.5 μm emitting VECSEL structure when operated at 20°C. Furthermore, we will compare laser structures with different emission wavelengths and discuss the role of the QW strain, band-offset and active region composition on laser performance.