Two Venture Capital Funds Create New Medical Device Company, Device Innovation Group LLC  
3/9/2011 8:17:11 AM

Nashville Business Journal -- TriStar Technology Fund and Limestone Fund, two original recipients of funding through the state’s TNInvestco program, are joining together to create a new medical-device company.

Newly formed Device Innovation Group LLC will partner with MDI Partners LLC, which has offices in Florida and Oregon, to work with universities in introducing new medical devices in underserved markets.

According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company recently raised a total of $4 million from TriStar and Limestone.

The following is an edited press release from TriStar Technology Fund:

TriStar Technology Fund and Limestone Fund are pleased to have joined together to form a new company, Device Innovation Group, LLC, which is headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. As part of its creation, TriStar and Limestone also completed a seed financing round for the company.

Device Innovation Group will develop early stage medical devices that fulfill unmet clinical needs and underserved markets in conjunction with MDI Partners, LLC, a leading medical device innovation company. The primary source of new innovation will come from universities, and the new company will incorporate a “fail fast” philosophy and a strategy of rapid advancement. “We are excited about expanding our existing relationship with MDI Partners, who have a wealth of experience and knowledge about the medical device industry, to further the growth of the medical device industry in Tennessee,” said Brian Laden, Ph.D., a partner at TriStar. “Device Innovation Group will fulfill an unmet need in the medical device arena by focusing on a market that is often overlooked by larger investment firms.”

The Device Innovation Group strategy is built on that of the existing MDI business model, which has a proven track record of successful commercialization in the medical device field. Partners at MDI include Navroze Mehta, an entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience managing life science and technology companies; Edward Boyle, M.D., an experienced cardiothoracic surgeon and medical device entrepreneur; John Harris, an entrepreneur with over 16 years of experience in the development and commercialization of innovative medical device technologies; Andrew Firlik, M.D., a neurosurgeon, entrepreneur and venture capitalist; and Chris Geneau, a recognized engineering leader with more than 18 years experience in the medical device, consumer and automotive industries. “We are very pleased to begin a new long-term relationship with Limestone, as well as continue our existing work with TriStar, following their investment in MDI’s spider vein technology company, VenX. We believe that bringing together this team of experienced investors, entrepreneurs and medical device professionals will prove to be a successful venture for not only our three groups, but for the medical device industry as a whole,” said Mehta, Managing Director of MDI. Joe Cook, III, a partner at Limestone, commented, “This is a unique approach to medical device innovation and a more focused way to innovate around unmet clinical needs. We are excited about the potential for Device Innovation Group to help improve patient care and lower overall health care costs.”

Device Innovation Group recently hired its first full-time employee, Josh Nickols, Ph.D., who will serve as the VP for Business Development. Nickols is the former CTO and VP of Research & Development for Insight Genetics. Prior to that position, he managed the sports medicine research and development program at BioMimetic Therapeutics.

TriStar and Limestone were two of the original recipients of funding from the Tennessee Small Business Company Investment Credit Act (TNInvestco). TNInvestco is a state program put in place to develop Tennessee’s entrepreneurial infrastructure, bring additional capital into the state, diversify the state’s economy and create “anchors” or “clusters” of business innovation. The result is new companies being created or spun off and new talent being attracted to Tennessee.