San Diego’s First IPO of 2009, New Institute Plans to Transform Healthcare, Making Waves at Water Parks, & More San Diego Biz/Tech News

4/20/09

We saw several San Diego innovators making waves last week. Bridgepoint Education defied the recession by going public, Sapphire Energy upped its production estimates due to a technological breakthrough, and a wave war erupted among San Diego’s wave makers. So this is how things looked during the week:

—San Diego’s Bridgepoint Education (NYSE: BPI) priced its initial public offering at $10.50 per share, which netted the online education provider $142 million. Bridgepoint had indicated earlier it hoped to raise as much as $216 million. Bridgepoint’s biggest investor is Warburg Pincus, but the National Venture Capital Association still says Bridgepoint is the first venture-backed IPO of the year.

—San Diego’s Sapphire Energy, which is building a production facility for its algae-to-biofuel technology near Las Cruces, NM, doubled its production estimates for 2011. Sapphire now says it will produce a million gallons of “green crude” in two years, and a billion gallons by 2025. The startup company backed by Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment has participated in successful test flights in recent months that substituted jet fuel made from Sapphire’s “green crude” for conventional jet fuel.

—Philanthropist Gary West told me the West Wireless Health Institute will be fully operational this summer in San Diego’s Torrey Pines Mesa. West, who is the founding chairman, says the institute will be “a catalyst for wireless health” as remote monitoring of vital signs becomes more commonplace in coming years.

—Bruce caught up with EasyTaxFix co-founder Adam Berkson, whose online company helps homeowners lower their property taxes by automating the appeal process. Berkson told Bruce they were successful enough in San Diego in November to expand into other California counties, New Jersey, and the Phoenix, AZ, metro area.

—As the recession has worsened, the four software CEOs who formed San Diego’s DaggerBoard Advisors have seen changes in the type of help that local software startups are seeking. San Diego’s software startups are looking for interim management services, because they’re trying to keep their payroll costs down, instead of asking DaggerBoard to help find funding, or to help prepare their companies for sale.

—El Cajon, CA-based Pure Bioscience (NASDAQ: PURE) plans to raise as much as $15 million by selling shares of its stock and warrants through a shelf registration. Pure has developed a germ-killing silver-ion compound that can be used in a variety of different products and industries.

— San Diego-based Tapioca Wireless is a small startup that is developing multimedia messaging as a way to transmit video clips to as many different types of mobile phones as possible. Tapioca co-founder and CTO Chas Wurster told me the company hopes to send hundreds of millions of high-quality videos to the masses in a few years.

—San Diego-based Awarepoint helps hospitals pinpoint the exact location of all its medical equipment, by using Zigbee-based technology to create wireless mesh sensor networks throughout a medical center’s many buildings. The company sees a huge business opportunity as a new wave of IT innovations enable healthcare providers to constrain their costs.

—BrightQube CEO Lee Corkran told Bruce the innovation his online stock photo service has delivered is a display that enables users to see thousands of photographs and images on a single browser page. Now BrightQube’s Corkran hopes to raise some venture capital.

—And finally, American Wave Machines of Solana Beach, CA, says it has introduced a new wave-making technology. But the startup faces a patent-infringement lawsuit filed by Wave Loch, a San Diego-based company making waves since 1991. AWM’s Bruce McFarland says their technology is fundamentally different than Wave Loch’s.

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