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ForSight Labs, Newly Formed Ophthalmic Device Incubator, Receives $2.4-million in Venture Funding

Stacy Campbell-Kraft

ForSight Labs, Newly Formed Ophthalmic Device Incubator, Receives $2.4-million in Venture Funding

Jan 6, 2006 – Menlo Park, CA. ForSight Labs, which aims to create new companies around promising ophthalmic medical device technologies, today announced its formation with seed funding of $2.4 million. The funding comes from three venture capital firms: Morgenthaler Ventures, Split Rock Partners and Versant Ventures.

The new incubator will be based on a collaboration between Eugene de Juan, M.D., and The Foundry. Dr. De Juan is Jean Kelly Stock Distinguished Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of California at San Francisco’s School of Medicine and has frequently been listed as one of the top 10 practicing ophthalmologists in the U.S. He has also co-founded five ophthalmic device companies and holds over 40 drug and device patents. The Foundry, founded in 1998 and based in Menlo Park, has founded nine new medical device companies, mostly focused on cardiovascular therapies. Together, these device companies have attained a current combined valuation of over $500 million.

ForSight Labs will combine Dr. de Juan’s ability as an ophthalmic therapy innovator with The Foundry’s proven process for device company creation. That process begins with evaluation of device ideas from around the world, selection every year of one idea with exceptional medical and commercial potential, device prototyping and testing that leads to proof of concept, and, finally, creation of a full-fledged company capable of attracting venture capital investment. The Foundry raises significant funding for the company and continues to assist it as it exits The Foundry’s offices and begins an independent existence.

“I looked at a number of successful device incubator models, but The Foundry’s model stood out,” says Dr. de Juan, who cites The Foundry’s unusually close alignment of interests between device developers and investors. “As an inventor, the Foundry model allows me to do my job unfettered.”

“Gene brings to ForSight Labs a great inventive spirit together with an understanding the realities of working together to build great new businesses,” says Hanson Gifford, CEO and co-founder of The Foundry. He adds, “The potential for medical device applications in ophthalmology is exceptional. The demographics of eye disease, which afflicts growing numbers of the aging population, is combining with emerging device technologies to offer opportunities similar to those presented a decade ago for cardiovascular devices.”

The three venture capital investors will each take a seat on the ForSight Labs board of directors. The venture capital directors include:

  • William Link, Managing Director of Versant Ventures, with long experience in building ophthalmic device companies. These include Chiron Vision, which he co-founded and led as CEO, and seven venture-backed ophthalmic start-ups ( IntraLase, Refractec, eyeonics, AcuFocus, Glaukos, NeoVista and Second Sight).
  • Dave Stassen, Managing Director and co-founder of Split Rock Partners (whose partner, Allan Will founded The Foundry prior to joining Split Rock). Split Rock is both an investor in the Foundry and in seven of its companies.
  • Robert “Robin” Bellas, Jr., general partner at Morgenthaler Ventures where he heads the Life Science team. Morgenthaler is also an investor in The Foundry and in six of its companies.

About The Foundry

Founded in 1998 and located in Menlo Park, California, The Foundry is the medical device industry’s premier new company incubator. Working in partnership with inventors, The Foundry brings together the rapid prototyping, intellectual property, funding, operating team and leadership which transform concepts into companies. Additional information can be found at www.thefoundry.com.

About Versant Ventures

Versant Ventures is a leading healthcare-focused venture capital firm specializing in early-stage investments in medical devices, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, healthcare services, and healthcare information technology. The firm, founded in 1999, consists of a seasoned team of eleven managing directors with more than 105 years of venture capital investing experience and more than 145 years of operating experience. Versant Ventures currently manages over $1 billion in committed capital having recently raised its third fund in November 2005, and is currently managing over 65 companies in its portfolio.

About Split Rock Partners

Split Rock Partners, with offices in Minneapolis and Menlo Park, seeks emerging opportunities in healthcare, software, and Internet services primarily in the Upper Midwest and West Coast. Split Rock Partners was formed in June 2004 by the healthcare and software investment teams of St. Paul Venture Capital and continues to manage St. Paul Venture Capital’s existing healthcare and software portfolio. Since its inception in 1988, St. Paul Venture Capital has consistently been an active early-stage venture capital investor, directly investing over $1.3 billion in a diversified portfolio of companies across six venture capital funds. Split Rock’s portfolio of healthcare investments includes such industry leaders as Spine-Tech, The Foundry, Santarus, DexCom, Emphasys Medical, Xtent, Cierra, and Disc Dynamics. Additional information about the firm can be found at www.splitrockpartners.com.

About Morgenthaler Ventures

Morgenthaler, a leading venture capital firm, was founded in 1968. The firm focuses on early-stage technology investments and has actively invested in the life sciences since the 1980s and in medical devices since the early 1990s. Past medical device investments include AneuRx, CardioThoracic Systems, IVS, Menlo Care, and Perclose. Current medical device investments include Ardian, Cardiomind, Cierra, Emphasys, The Foundry, Neothermia, Satiety, Spine Wave, Symphony Medical, Thermage, and Xtent. With its new fund VIII, the firm will have a total of nearly $2.5 billion under management. For more information see www.morgenthaler.com.