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33 posts categorized "Pemstar in the news"

March 05, 2015

Three local biotech start-ups win funding

A regional economic development fund is giving three local medical technology start-ups a financial boost.

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation recently announced it's giving funding to three local companies: Ambient Clinical Analytics, a Mayo Clinic spin-off software firm in Rochester; Xcede Technologies Inc., a Rochester company that makes surgical sealants; and Sonex Health, a Byron-based company that markets a carpal tunnel surgery device device called Stealth Microknife.

G_southern-minnesota-initiative-foundation-1395-1410186849.1865SMIF, which typically doesn't release the amounts of its economic development investments, is tapping its new $3 million Southern Minnesota Equity Fund for the capital for these three companies. The fund was created to to invest up to $600,000 per year for five years. The maximum investment is $100,000, according to SMIF.

The fund provides capital and expertise to early-stage and start-up companies. SMIF partners with organizations and individual investors to leverage capital and expertise to grow these companies to provide economic opportunities for Southern Minnesota.

"We're pleased to invest in these high-tech businesses through our newly-created equity fund program. Our Foundation remains committed to providing resources to grow local businesses," stated SMIF President/CEO Tim Penny in the announcement of the investments.

Ambient Clinic: Ambient Clinical is based in the newly opened expansion of the Mayo Clinic Biobusiness Accelerator in the Minnesota Biobusiness Center. It's CEO is Al Berning, who previously led Pemstar, Hardcore Computing and other Rochester companies. Drew Flaada, a former Rochester IBM executive, serves as chief technology officer.

Ambient raised $1.18 million in funding in early 2014.

Xcede Technologies Inc.: Xcede, subsidiary of Watertown, Mass.-based Dynasil Corp. of America, designs, develops and manufactures innovative hemostatic (bleeding prevention) and sealant products for surgical application.

Xcede is based at 1815 14th St. NW. Ambient's Berning was listed as an executive director in 2014.

Dynasil acquired Mayo Clinic technology initially invented by Dr. Daniel Ericson in 2011.

Sonex Health: Sonex Health is the creator of the Stealth MicroKnife. The Stealth MicroKnife is a medical device that allows clinicians to perform carpal tunnel release surgery under ultrasound guidance in the office

Sonex is listed as being based in Byron as well as having a presence in Mayo Clinic Mayo Clinic Biobusiness Accelerator. 

July 24, 2012

Sale of Second Street properties raises questionsabout future development

Here's my piece from today's paper about the sale of the Bell Tower Inn, the Alpine Inn plus four other properties on Second Street Southwest.

While the details about the new owners and their intentions are sparce, I'd say one strong possibilty is that a local developer with a handful of local investors put together a deal.

We know Rochester Attorney Dan Berndt is representing the owners, since he filed the incorporation of Second Street Parking LLC.

I've heard from unofficial sources that a hotel is most likely the project in the works, but the company name suggests the possibility of some sort of parking gambit, maybe building extra and selling those spaces.

Of course, that speculation could be way off. We'll just have to see what happens.

A cluster of southwest Rochester properties, including the Bell Tower Inn and the Alpine Inn, sold for $2.72 million earlier this month.

That spurs the question of what the new owner — Second Street Parking LLC — has planned for one of the city's highest profile blocks, across the street from Saint Marys Hospital.

6a00d83451cc8269e2016767b62c44970b-800wiIt's unclear who's behind the Rochester company or what the plan is for the older buildings that have long been identified as a prime spot for new development.

The recently formed Second Street Parking bought the parcels that cover half of the block of Second Street between 12th and 13th avenues on July 9. The deeds were officially transferred on July 17.

This is the same group of buildings that were up for foreclosure last month, until the Boundary Waters Bank canceled the sheriff's auction. The company that bought them was incorporated only a few days before the auction was canceled, according to Minnesota Secretary of State's records.

Listing Rochester attorney Dan Berndt's office at the downtown Dunlap & Seeger Law Firm as its registered office, Second Street Parking filed for incorporation on June 6. Berndt was unavailable Monday to discuss the company or the project. No other names were part of the public filing.

Many speculate that the old hotels, the A & A Guest House and the handful of older houses will be demolished to make way for a new development.

While the company's name implies that parking is at least part of what is coming for the area, people connected to the project say they expect a new hotel.

Prior to the sheriff's auction being canceled, the land was described as "a prime hotel development site" in a real estate listing by Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Leines Hotel Advisors. The land was priced at $4.3 million in the sale brochure.

Developers are interested in building more hotels in Rochester due to growing population and the steady stream of visitors to Mayo Clinic.

A Holiday Inn Express & Suites opened last month a few blocks west of the Bell Tower properties, and the nearby Blondell Hotel was upgraded and re-branded as The Brentwood on 2nd. In addition, a La Quinta Inn & Suite is slated to be built in the Shoppes on Maine area in south Rochester.

Prior to the Boundary Water Bank assigning a receiver to take control of the properties, Mike Gillespie of Urbandale, Iowa, owned and managed the buildings.

He bought them in 2006 and 2007 to sell to a client who had plans to build a new commercial project there. The recession then caused the expected buyer to back out and Gillespie was stuck with properties that he had not expected to own for long.

The Bell Tower alone, which was built in 1910, cost him $2.2 million in October 2007.

September 22, 2011

The Belgians are coming - Mayo Clinic-linked firm opening Roch. subsidary

Here's some from a piece I whipped up today about a Belgium biotech company, Cardio3, opening a U.S. office in the US. I've have been following these guys for years.

They are a pretty interesting firm.

The whole story is in today's print edition, including more about the potential of what this could mean for Rochester.


After years of talks, a Belgium company that uses stem cells to repair the heart is coming to Rochester in what local officials hope will be the start of a cluster of regenerative medicine firms here.
Cardio3 BioSciences, which is based on Mayo Clinic-licensed research by Dr. Atta Behfar and Dr. Andre Terzic, uses a patient's own stem cells from bone marrow to repair heart damage.

Clinical trials with patients in Europe have shown positive results. Now the company is establishing a subsidiary in Rochester to begin trials in the United States.

"What is unique about this is it's Mayo intellectual property that they are commercializing, which they took to it Belgium … and now it has come full circle back to Rochester," said Rochester Area Economic Development Inc. President Gary Smith. "That is a big thing … a very big thing."

September 15, 2011

Rochester tech exec featured in new biz success book

Irfqhk2trnzxes88201017122 Al Berning, known in Rochester as a former IBMer, a co-founder of Pemstar and current CEO of Hardcore Computers, is one of 45 entrepenuers featured in a new business book called "How They Did It."

The book, written by Robert Jordan, asked the 45 founders, "How do you start a How+They+Did+Itcompany from scratch and turn it into a hundred-million-dollar success story"

  To promote the book, Jordan is hosting Entrepreneurial Bashes with panel discussions featuring some of the people from the book.

Look for Berning to appear in one at the New York Stock Exchange on Oct. 3.

Here's some from a press release that surfaced in my email this morning:

Each leg of the Entrepreneurial Bash features a different group of founders who have agreed to go on record about what it takes to win in any economy. "It's their way of giving back to the business community," says Jordan. If their advice on raising seed capital, hiring the right team, bouncing back from setbacks, and becoming leaner, smarter, and meaner than competitors sparks new startups that generate jobs, that would be an ideal outcome, he adds.

The founders featured in the New York Entrepreneurial Bash include Bonnie Baskin, AppTec Laboratory Services; Glenn Tullman, Allscripts and ECIN; Jim Dolan, The Dolan Company; Mark Tebbe, and Lante Corporation; and Al Berning, Hardcore Computer and Pemstar. The event runs from 4:30 to 7 p.m., at the NYSE building, 11 Wall Street, New York City.

August 03, 2010

Mayo Clinic linked anti-obesity device maker firms up

In March of 2005, I launched this blog and news from one medical device firm - EnteroMedics - has been there almost every step of the way since.

I wrote about this St. Paul company and its research and licensing deals with Mayo Clinic twice that first month blogging.

Enteromedicsdevice More than five years later, it is still a name that comes up a couple times a month as its saga yo-yos up and down. Kind of like Brett Farve, but that's another story.

Anyway, EnteroMedics announced Monday that has an OK from the FDA to do a study of its second generation Maestro system on humans. Maestro involves a sort of Pacemaker-like device that tells a person's vagus nerve that the stomach is full.

This is EnteroMedics' second shot at this. In October 2009, results from a study dubbed Empower showed that people with a placebo device lost as much as the actual widget.

Hence the name for this upcoming study - ReCharge.

In May, Mayo Clinic and EnteroMedics re-charged the five year deal they first signed in 2005. They extended it for two more years.

"The collaboration will continue to focus on the research and development of vagal-blocking technology for the treatment of obesity and other gastrointestinal disorders.

EnteroMedics will retain exclusive rights to obesity-related devices developed through this collaboration. Mayo Clinic has licensed technology to EnteroMedics and holds equity in the company"

On Monday, it also announced plans on taking the product to market in Australia, while the studies are done in the U.S.

Here's some from the PR sheet sent out from the firm:

Womanwithmaestro "EnteroMedics Inc., the developer of medical devices using neuroblocking technology to treat obesity and other gastrointestinal disorders, today announced that the Company has received conditional approval for its Investigational Device Exemption application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The IDE outlines plans for conducting a pivotal trial, the ReCharge Trial, evaluating the safety and efficacy of VBLOC® vagal blocking therapy delivered via the Company's second-generation Maestro® RC System in the treatment of obesity.

The Maestro System is the first obesity treatment to use neuroblocking technology and represents a less invasive alternative to existing surgical weight loss procedures, which alter digestive system anatomy, lifestyle and food choices and may present significant risks.

The Company also announced its plans to commercialize the Maestro RC System in Australia and expects to file an application for approval and listing with the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration upon receiving CE Mark certification for the Maestro RC System.

EnteroMedics hopes to receive TGA approval during the second half of 2011."

What is next in this weighty saga? I have no idea, but I expect to be blogging on it for at least two more years.

Gotta love job security. Not as good as Favre's, but the best I'm going to do.

May 03, 2010

Vein finder device + Roch.

Here's some from an article by the intrepid Jeff Hansel. He did a great job outlining this medical device project Benchmark Electronics has cooking locally.

For the full piece, go here.

And he also has an interesting take today on Rochester's push for biotechnology business. Read that one here.


83sghvfirpen4453201084617 Southeast Minnesota workers helped design and now are manufacturing a sophisticated device that pinpoints veins for medical workers, in an example of biotechnology taking root locally.

Accuvein is a New York state "virtual" biotech, one that doesn't have corporate cars, offices or laboratories.

One of its ideas is Accuvein, a portable vein finder to find the "first best vein."

It partnered with Benchmark Electronics of Rochester to do the detailed design and production work on Accuvein, said Vinny Luciano, vice president of marketing. Benchmark had the right skills in both medical design and medical manufacturing, he said.

March 18, 2010

37th Street Pump N Munch = ...?

03182010subwaypumpmunchplans The plans are in at Rochester Building Safety.

The former BP Pump N Munch gas station at 37th Street N.W. by Arby's and Baker's Square is slated to become a new Subway restaurant.

It looks like this will be a move for the Subway that is a block or two away from the ex-station.

Here are the plans that the owner from Mankato had the folks at Yaggy Colby whip up.

I should have more details on this soon.

January 26, 2010

Mayo Clinic created med scanner + Dubai medical expo

Here's an update on my favorite elastography device (OK. It's the only one that I know of) invented in Rochester.

14resoundant1jk Back in 2008, I wrote about Mayo Clinic and the creation of Magnetic Resonance Elastography, which is a completely new way to scan the human body that uses sound waves.

A team led by Mayo Clinic's Dr. Richard Ehman developed the process and a device dubbed the "Resoundant." It works as an accessory of sorts hooked onto a traditional MRI scanner.

It uses a drum-like paddle to send vibrations into a patient to determine the stiffness of tissue. A computer algorithm then interprets the results. Benchmark Electronics in Rochester started making the Resoundant. 031508resoundant2jk

Mayo Clinic partnered with the two top MRI scanner makers, GE Healthcare and Siemens Medical Solutions, to sell the device and install its software on all new MRI scanners they make. The two companies account for 82 percent of the market.

The latest news I picked up via a Kigerography® scan is that GE is displaying its model of the Resoundant  - called MR Touch (Sounds like a cousin of the iPod Touch) – at the 2010 Arab Health Expo.


GE Healthcare, the healthcare business of General Electric Company showcased its range of new magnetic resonance  products on the opening day of Arab Health 2010 expo in Dubai on Monday.

456683301 The innovative MR portfolio complements GE’s ‘healthymagination’ initiative and is driven by the need to deliver and maintain sustainable health care globally, built on the core commitments of reducing costs and improving quality and access in health care worldwide, said its top official.

“We’ve chosen to spotlight our new MR products because they truly change the face of diagnostic imaging,” said Jim Davis, vice president and general manager of GE Healthcare.

“While the economy has slowed innovation elsewhere, GE Healthcare has accelerated the pace of new breakthroughs (Since Mayo Clinic doctors invented this, I guess GE means it has accelerated its pace of buying breakthroughs - Jeff), and we believe tremendous opportunity exists ahead,” he remarked.


Based on technology invented at Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN), MR-Touch extends the principles of physical palpation with a precise, non-invasive, cost- effective way to visually evaluate tissue stiffness in patients at risk for developing liver disease.

October 05, 2009

Anti-obesity device maker+ big hurdle + $4.9M = ?

Here's a couple tidbits that seem to signal action @ EnteroMedics, a St. Paul, Minn. company that Mayo Clinic back in 2005 to work together to develop an external, Pacemaker-like weight control device.

“Spectacularly successful” is how EnteroMedics CEO Mark Knudson described the relationship with Mayo Clinic back in 2006. 

Here's some from a Dow Jones story by
Jon Kamp:

EnteroMedics Inc. on Friday became the latest company to stumble in the medical-devices field of neuromodulation, where treating various disorders with electric pulses to the nervous system remains a promising but sometimes hard-to-achieve goal.

The small company, which has been working on a device called "Maestro" that blocks signals on a major nerve to treat obesity, said initial analysis showed a key U.S. trial for the device failed to meet its main goals.
Shares closed Friday down 78.2% as a result to 98 cents a share, and down to 97 cents in recent late trading. The results are a blow for company that has been burning through tens of millions of dollars to develop this system and bring it to market.

EnteroMedics followed up with a late announcement Friday that it has reached a deal with an institutional investor to sell 6.2 million shares for 80 cents a piece to raise $4.9 million. The news didn't stop the tumbling share price, however.
As of June 30, cash on hand was nearly $35 million and debt was $20 million. The company burns between $6.5 million and $7 million per quarter.
An interim study in January showed positive results for the Maestro system, but the much larger Empower study didn't bolster those findings.

According to the company's announcement, the sale of the 6.2 million of shares should wrap up by Wednesday.

Another local link of EnteroMedics is that former Pemstar exec Greg Lea is the chief financial officer for what was a very rapidly rising company. That position might not be as fun today as it was during the very optimistic days as a few months ago.

July 07, 2009

Two Roch. linked companies + Russell 3000

I need to come clean. I had no idea what the Russell 3000 Index was before Monday morning. Is that a bad thing for a business editor to confess to?
Bad or not, it is true. For the few other folks out there who are not up on their stock indexes, here's the definition from Russell's web site:

"The Russell 3000 Index measures the performance of the largest 3000 U.S. companies representing approximately 98% of the investable U.S. equity market. 
The Russell 3000 Index is constructed to provide a comprehensive, unbiased, and stable barometer of the broad market and is completely reconstituted annually to ensure new and growing equities are reflected."

I read up on this since two companies with substantial Rochester connections - EnteroMedics Inc. and Computer Task Group, Inc. made it onto the Russell 3000 list last week.

• Anyway, EnteroMedics Inc. signed a deal with Mayo Clinic back in 2005 to work together to develop an external, Pacemaker-like weight control device and to license some of Mayo Clinic's patents.

“Spectacularly successful” is how then-EnteroMedics CEO Mark Knudson described the relationship with Mayo Clinic back in 2006. 

Another local link is that former Pemstar exec Greg Lea is the CFO for the rapidly rising firm.

Here's a snippet from the Twin Cities-based company's announcement about Russell:

 "Russell indexes are widely followed by the investment community and inclusion in the Russell 3000 is an important benchmark for any emerging company. We expect that this milestone will increase our visibility and bring EnteroMedics' efforts in obesity, diabetes,and hypertension to a wider investor audience," said Greg S. Lea, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of EnteroMedics.

• Buffalo, N.Y.-based Computer Task Group, Inc.  or CTG is a major contractor for IBM and had up to 300 people working in Rochester back in 2006. Its Rochester office opened in 2004.

Since then it has had several layoffs and paycuts, though the company has declined to provide details on those moves.