A Medical Device Daily

H.I.G. Ventures (Atlanta), an affiliate of equity firm H.I.G. Capital (Miami), reported raising H.I.G. Venture Partners II, a venture capital fund that will invest in early-stage companies in the life sciences and information technology sectors, with a focus on companies located in the Southeast.

The fund held its first closing on $250 million of equity capital and is closing on an additional $50 million in the next few weeks, bringing total fund size to its maximum cap amount of $300 million.

The new fund will continue the investment strategy employed by H.I.G. Ventures' predecessor fund, H.I.G. Venture Partners I, established in 1999 with $250 million of equity capital. The fund will make investments “in emerging high-growth companies and in early stage and mid-stage companies that have significant potential for growth and value creation,“ according to a company statement.

H.I.G. Ventures is one of the major venture capital firms based in the Southeast, according to Tony Tamer and Sami Mnaymneh, who co-founded H.I.G. and serve as its managing partners. Since founding in 1993, H.I.G. has completed more than 50 venture capital investments in the information technology sector (including semiconductor, enterprise and infrastructure software, storage networking, cable and broadband, and IT security), and in the life sciences and healthcare sectors.

Investors in H.I.G. Venture Partners II include leading institutions, university endowments, public and private pensions and investment firms, and consisted primarily of H.I.G.'s existing group of limited partners.

“The Southeast is home to a large and fast-growing number of exciting emerging technology and life sciences companies,“ said Tamer. “We look forward to continue backing talented entrepreneurs in this region and help them build market-leading businesses.“

Mnaymneh added: “We were able to close the fund in less than three months from the time we first announced it.“

H.I.G. Capital has more than $2 billion of equity capital under management. Based in Miami, and with offices in Atlanta, Boston and San Francisco, H.I.G. specializes in providing capital to small- and medium-sized companies.

In other financing activity:

DexCom (San Diego), a developer of sensor technology in the diabetes treatment sector, reported completing a private Series D financing totaling $22.5 million.

DexCom is developing sensors to continuously monitor glucose levels.

Warburg Pincus led the investment with previous Series A, B and C investors participating, including Canaan Partners, Federated Kaufmann Fund, Fog City Fund, RWI Group and St. Paul Venture Capital. The Vertical Group also joined the investment syndicate as a new investor.

Piper Jaffray served as a placement agent to DexCom in the financing.

“We are extremely pleased to have a firm with the reputation and track record of Warburg Pincus lead our Series D financing,“ said Steve Kemper, CFO of DexCom. “We are impressed with the depth of knowledge Warburg Pincus offers in medical technology and are pleased to have Sean Carney, a managing director at Warburg Pincus, join the DexCom board of directors.“

Carney said, “We are excited about DexCom's technology and clinical accomplishments to date, and pleased to be able to partner with DexCom employees, along with the board and shareholders, to help develop an important technology for diabetes patients.“

Since 1971, Warburg Pincus has sponsored 10 private equity investment funds with committed capital in excess of $19 billion. The firm currently has about $13 billion under management, with investments of roughly $900 million in the medical device industry.

In another D-round financing, VisionCare Ophthal-mic Technologies (Saratoga, California), a developer of vis-ual prosthetic devices for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and other central vision disorders, reported garnering new funding of $20 million.

The round was led by new investor Boston Scientific (Natick, Massachusetts), with current investors including Pitango Venture Capital, Onset Ventures, Three Arch Partners and Infinity Venture Capital.

VisionCare said the new capital would be used to complete clinical development of the Implantable Miniature Telescope (IMT) developed by Dr. Isaac Lipshitz (Medical Device Daily, Jan. 15, 2003), gain regulatory approval for the indication of end-stage AMD and build sales and marketing capabilities.

The IMT visual prosthesis is a medical device in late-stage clinical development for the moderately-to-profoundly visually impaired AMD population.

The implant is designed to be a permanent medical treatment for visual rehabilitation of individuals with bilateral moderate to profound vision loss due to end-stage AMD, resulting from dry AMD or wet AMD (treated or naturally resolved). Smaller than a pea, the telescope is implanted in one eye in an outpatient surgical procedure. In the implanted eye, the device renders enlarged central vision images over a wide area of the retina to help improve central vision, while the non-operated eye provides peripheral vision for mobility and orientation.

VisionCare's visual prosthetic device is designed to help improve vision and quality of life in patients visually impaired by AMD in both eyes (20/80 vision or worse), the company estimating that more than 430,000 Americans are legally blind (20/200 vision or worse in the better-seeing eye) due to advanced AMD.

“Enthusiasm for our technology from the ophthalmic community is reflected in this successful financing round,“ said Allen Hill, chairman and CEO of VisionCare. “The significant investment by Boston Scientific and our existing investors will allow us to complete our ongoing pivotal trial and build the infrastructure to achieve a successful product launch next year. We intend to play a major role in the expanding field of AMD treatments.“

VisionCare reports its U.S. Phase II/III clinical trial “nearing completion.“ The prospective, multicenter trial enrolled more than 200 patients at 28 investigational sites, with interim six-month results reported at the October meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (San Francisco). One-year clinical results will be presented later this year, according to the company.

Henry Hudson, MD, principal investigator and affiliated with the Retina Centers (Tucson), said, “We are hopeful the one-year data will corroborate the six-month results, which showed 89% of patients achieving the study protocol's visual acuity endpoint. We have been waiting for a technology that can deliver long-term visual acuity and quality-of-life improvement for these patients we see every day, but have been unable to treat.“

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