Innovative Pulmonary Pockets $10.6M, Finds New CEO

9/20/12Follow @xconomy

Innovative Pulmonary Solutions, a stealthy Bellevue, WA-based medical device startup, has raised more than $10 million in venture capital and recruited a new CEO with experience selling a couple of other startups, Xconomy has learned.

The company is planning to announce today that it closed a Series B equity financing in March worth $10.6 million, led by Advanced Technology Ventures (ATV), and which included Versant Ventures, Morgenthaler Ventures, and Split Rock Partners. The company has now raised $19 million in venture capital since its founding in 2008, co-founder Steve Dimmer says.

With that cash deposited in the bank, Dennis Wahr has signed on as Innovative Pulmonary’s new CEO. Wahr sold his previous companies, Lutonix and Velocimed, to C.R. Bard (NYSE: BCR) and St. Jude Medical (NASDAQ: STJ), respectively.

Innovative Pulmonary has said very little publicly about what it’s doing. Dimmer, the former vice president of R&D at Seattle-based Calypso Medical Technologies, says it involves a catheter-based procedure that reduces overactive nerve signals in the lungs, which allows airways to open up, making it easier for people to breathe.

This is a new technical approach for treating lung obstructions, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, an umbrella term for emphysema and chronic bronchitis. An estimated 16 million people in the U.S. (mostly smokers) have this disease, the fourth-leading cause of death in the U.S., killing 100,000 people a year, according to the National Emphysema Foundation.

“This technology helps patients breathe easier,” Dimmer says. “There’s nothing out there like it today.” He adds: “It’s really a good signal for this technology that we were able to get somebody of Dennis’s caliber.”

There are a number of competitors in the field using different technologies, including the Redmond, WA-based Spiration unit of Olympus, and Tustin, CA-based Uptake Medical. So Innovative Pulmonary is keeping a lot of details about its progress under wraps, including how many employees it has, and how far along it has advanced in R&D. Dimmer did say the company is recruiting patients into a clinical trial, and a posting on Clinicaltrials.gov confirms that it is looking to enroll 12 patients in a 180-day study assessing safety.

As part of the deal, Innovative Pulmonary’s new CEO will be commuting to Seattle for a while from his base in Minneapolis, Dimmer says. Eventually, the company will look to move its headquarters to the Minneapolis area, which is a good medical device cluster for scaling the company up to the next level, with people experienced in building catheter-based medical device businesses. Dimmer is staying with the company as an executive vice president.

“We are still based here in Seattle, and it’s a great place to start the company,” Dimmer says. “We were founded in 2008, and it’s a Seattle success story in that we’ve been able to get funding in challenging times.”

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