The Year in Seattle Medical Devices, Diagnostics, Health IT

12/23/11Follow @xconomy

Yesterday, we ran the first half of the Seattle life sciences year in review, which focused on biopharmaceutical companies and global health organizations. Today’s rundown will cover the medical device, diagnostic, and health IT side of the local life sciences cluster.

Medical devices may not fare so well in a glamour contest, but this year the Seattle device community had more success stories, more acquisitions, upheaval, and even a couple of controversies. SonoSite was the biggest acquisition of the year, and although terms weren’t disclosed, it was almost surely followed by Pacific Bioscience Laboratories (the maker of the Clarisonic skin brush you see prominently displayed at Nordstrom). Calistoga Pharmaceuticals, you had a great year, but your deal is probably the third-biggest of the year in Seattle biotech. Sorry.

For the highlights from Seattle med-tech, diagnostics, and various Bio-IT operations, read on:

Sonosite (NASDAQ: SONO): The maker of portable ultrasound machines has been relatively stable, and modestly profitable as an independent company for some time, so I was surprised to see it get acquired for $995 million earlier this month by Japan-based Fujifilm. Shareholders can’t complain, given the price represents a 50 percent premium over SonoSite’s prior closing stock price. This is the biggest deal of the year in local life science, by a long shot.

NanoString Technologies. This was a big year for NanoString. The company, a spinoff from the Institute for Systems Biology, developed a second-generation version of its digital nCounter instrument, which measures the extent to which multiple genes are turned on or off in a biological sample. This was part of a bold plan to turn this scientific instrument into a diagnostic tool. By the end of the year, NanoString had raised another $20 million from GE, former Genzyme CEO Henri Termeer, and others, and it presented some important data that suggests it could compete with Redwood City, CA-based Genomic Health (NASDAQ: GHDX) in the breast cancer diagnostic market.

Clarisonic. Terms weren’t disclosed, but this could be the second-biggest acquisition of the year in Seattle’s life sciences community (although this company is hard to really categorize). Pacific Bioscience Labs, the maker of the Clarisonic skin brush, was acquired by cosmetics giant L’Oreal last month. The Clarisonic surpassed the $100 million sales mark in 2010, was highly profitable, and growing by leaps and bounds. My best guess is that Clarisonic sold for about $500 million. It’s the second home run for the same entrepreneurial team who developed the Sonicare toothbrush.

Geospiza. The Seattle-based developer of software … Next Page »

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  • Paul Buckman is a carpetbagger

    Regarding Pathway, it was not only the early angel investors who got coal in their stockings. All common stockholders got ZERO out of the deal. Employees’ stock options are worthless. CEO Buckman got away with several million in “retention bonus” and the like. Bah humbug.