San Diego-Area Business, Life Sciences, and Technology News Briefs


Ormet Raises $1.7M

Ormet Circuits, a San Diego company with proprietary technology for printing circuit patterns on a variety of materials, has raised more than $1.7 million from equity investors, according to a recent regulatory filing. On its website, Ormet says its technology can print circuits with high electrical and thermal conductivity and good solderability on cardboard, plastic, and paper. The ink is cured to become a fused metal network that alloys itself to conventional circuit materials. The company says it is currently concentrating on the creation of electrical and thermal vias in multi layer structures.


Celladon Raises $400K

San Diego-based Celladon, which is developing drug candidates that target a key enzyme deficiency apparent in heart failure, has secured $400,000 in a debt and securities financing, according to a recent regulatory filing. In late June, Celladon said a clinical study of its lead candidate, which is intended to restore a key enzyme that regulates calcium cycling and contractility in the heart, met its primary safety and efficacy endpoints at six months. The company has raised more than $60 million, according to Dow Jones VentureWire. On its website, Celladon identifies its current investors as as Enterprise Partners Venture Capital, Venrock, and Johnson & Johnson.

Aptera Motors Raises $2.2M

Carlsbad, CA-based Aptera Motors, developer of a teardrop-shaped three-wheel electric vehicle called the Aptera 2e, has raised more than $2.2 million in equity and rights, according to a recent regulatory filing. The cleantech automaker, which has been awaiting a key federal loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy, said in May that it plans to move its manufacturing operation from Oceanside, CA, to somewhere east of the Mississippi River. Aptera Motors has raised $44 million so far from investors that include Google and Idealab, according to VentureWire.

Geppert Named Interim CEO of Economic Development in San Diego

William “Bill” Geppert, who retired just five months ago as the head of Cox Communications in San Diego, has stepped in to serve as interim CEO of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. (EDC). Geppert, a Cox senior vice president and general manager, agreed to serve until the end of 2011. He is not a candidate for the permanent position, according to a statement issued late Wednesday by the EDC. The vacancy was created after Barry Broome, the head of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, changed his mind after publicly accepting the top post at San Diego’s EDC. Geppert is a longtime EDC board member and business leader.


Qualcomm Promotes Grob to CTO

San Diego’s Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM), the world’s largest developer of wireless chips used in mobile devices, says today that Matt Grob has been promoted to executive vice president and chief technology officer (CTO). The company says Roberto Padovani decided to transition out of his role as CTO. As the wireless giant’s technology leader, Grob will drive development of next-generation wireless technologies and help to coordinate research and development throughout the company.

Mitek Moves to Nasdaq

San Diego’s Mitek Systems, which signaled its plans to move to the Nasdaq exchange a couple of months ago, says its shares will begin trading on Nasdaq Thursday. The move is an added bit of credibility for Mitek, which has emerged over the past two years as a leading provider of mobile payment and transaction technology that enables bank customers to make a deposit by transmitting an image of a check taken with a smartphone camera. Mitek says its mobile deposit technology is used or being implemented at six of the top 10 U.S. retail banks, as well as Charles Schwab, Fidelity Investments, PayPal, and other financial institutions.

Sotera Wireless Raises $7M

San Diego’s Sotera Wireless, which specializes in non-invasive technology for measuring patients’ vital signs, has raised $7 million in a combination of debt, rights to acquire securities, and securities, according to a recent regulatory filing. Almost $350,000 in additional funding consists of warrants convertible to preferred shares that have not been exercised. Sotera, which was previously known as Triage Wireless, raised nearly $11 million in April, 2010, from Intel Capital, Qualcomm Ventures, Sanderling Ventures and West Family Holdings. As Xconomy reported last year, the company, founded in 2004, Sotera has raised at least $36 million through its first three rounds of funding.


Active Network Brings Schwaggle Home

After launching its daily deal program in the Bay Area seven months ago, the Active Network is bringing its Schwaggle program to its hometown San Diego market. The San Diego-based company says its area residents will now be able to access local deals on sports and fitness-related products and services and discount registrations for local events, including golf tee times at golf courses. An Active Network spokeswoman tells me the first deals to be offered in San Diego include a 50 percent discount for the City Solve Urban Race and half off at the Nitro Bike Shop.

Sequenom, Illumina Team Up on Down Syndrome Test

A noninvasive diagnostic test for fetal Down syndrome is the hoped-for outcome a deal announced today under which Sequenom, the genetic testing vendor, will obtain tools from Illumina, which develops large-scale systems for genetic analysis. No dollar value was put on the three-year agreement, which calls for Sequenom and its subsidiaries to purchase sequencing equipment and consumables from Illumina. The goal is to develop a noninvasive way to detect an overabundance of chromosome 21 in pregnant women, a possible sign of Down syndrome in the fetus. The two San Diego firms say they will collaborate to seek regulatory approval.


Amazon Backs ParAccel

Campbell, CA-based ParAccel said today that it has raised an undisclosed amount of new financing from Amazon and existing investors Menlo Ventures, Mohr Davidow Ventures, Bay Partners, Walden International, Tao Venture Capital Partners, and Silicon Valley Bank. While ParAccel has shifted its headquarters to the Bay Area, the company still operates in San Diego, making a high-performance database system used by financial and government customers. It has raised $73 million all told, according to a report today in Dow Jones VentureWire.


ResMed Buys Irish Device Company

San Diego’s ResMed (NYSE: RMD), which makes continuous positive air pressure devices for managing sleep-disordered breathing, said today it paid cash to acquire all the outstanding shares it doesn’t already own for BiancaMed of Dublin, Ireland. While financial terms were not disclosed, a ResMed spokeswoman told The San Diego Union-Tribune the price was a “significant premium” over the $15.8 million invested in BiancaMed before now. BiancaMed, a spinout from University College Dublin, has developed a sensing device to monitor a person’s sleep and breathing in the home and hospital.

Fluidigm, Life Settle Legal Dispute

South San Francisco-based Fluidigm (NASDAQ: FLDM) said today it has settled a legal dispute over intellectual property with Carlsbad, CA-based Life Technologies (NASDAQ: LIFE), as the companies have agreed to cross-license and sub-license certain technologies from each other. Fluidigm, which went public in February, makes microfluidic instruments that biologists can use to identify rare and valuable cells in samples, while Life Technologies makes a variety of tools for genetic and cell analysis. In this case, Fluidigm will get access to Life Tech’s polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technologies, in exchange for access to certain IP on imaging readers and other technologies, Fluidigm said. “This is a very positive outcome for both companies. It provides each company with the freedom to compete in the marketplace instead of the courtroom,” said Gajus Worthington, Fluidigm’s CEO, in a statement.


CareFusion Buying Germany’s Rowa

San Diego-based CareFusion (NYSE: CFN) says it has agreed to pay roughly $150 million to acquire Rowa, a German company that makes robotic equipment used in pharmacies for high-speed storage and retrieval of pre-packaged pharmaceutical products. In a statement today, CareFusion Chairman and CEO Kieran Gallahue calls Rowa “the clear pharmacy automation leader in Western Europe.” Combining Rowa with CareFusion’s Pyxis line of products represents an opportunity for the medical equipment provider to offer a comprehensive suite of medication management equipment outside the U.S. Rowa, based in Kelberg, Germany, has more than 300 employees.

OncoSec Medical Raises $3M

San Diego’s OncoSec Medical, which trades on the over-the-counter bulletin board as ONCSD, recently raised $3 million through a private stock placement with rights to acquire additional securities at set prices, according to a regulatory filing. In a statement last week, the company says the deal includes a series of warrants that enables the buyer to purchase additional shares of the company’s common stock at either 75 cents a share or $1.20 a share. Founded in 2008, OncoSec has been developing a proprietary electroporation delivery technology that is intended to make cancer cells more vulnerable to chemotherapeutic or novel DNA-based immunotherapeutics.


Maxwell Gets $500K to Advance Ultracapacitor Technologies

San Diego ultracapacitor maker Maxwell Technologies (Nasdaq: MXWL), says it’s getting more than $500,000 in government funding to collaborate on energy storage and R&D programs with three other U.S. companies. Maxwell and Yardney Technical products of Pawcatuck, CT, will get $300,000 under a Small Business Innovation Research grant to integrate Maxwell’s high power-density with Yardney’s high energy-density batteries. Maxwell and two Ohio-based materials makers also will share $200,000 from Ohio’s Third Frontier program to develop a domestic source for high-performance, low-cost carbon used in ultracapacitors and to determine how graphene might be used to increase the energy density of ultracapacitors.


Cardium to Get Transdel Assets

San Diego-based Cardium Therapeutics (NYSE Amex: CXM) said it would acquire substantially all of the business assets of San Diego’s Transdel Pharmaceuticals, including a pain treatment in late-stage clinical trials. Terms of the deal apparently were worked out before Transdel filed for bankruptcy reorganization yesterday. If approved by the federal bankruptcy court, Cardium would provide as much as $4 million in shares of its stock for the proposed asset purchase, which includes the topically administered analgesic Ketotransdel and royalty-bearing license agreements for products using Transdel technology.

Lilly to Hire 20 in San Diego

Eli Lilly today unveiled a multi-million dollar initiative to expand its biotech R&D in protein engineering, a move that includes hiring biochemists and biologists to work in “multi-specific therapeutics” in San Diego and Indianapolis. A spokeswoman says Lilly plans to hire about 20 scientists in each city. With its extensive expertise in biologics, Lilly says it is possible to engineer compounds so that one medicine provides multiple therapeutic effects. Lilly gained much of its experience in protein engineering through its 2004 acquisition of San Diego-based Applied Molecular Evolution.


Amylin, Alkermes Diabetes Med OKd in EU

San Diego-based Amylin Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AMLN) and its partners—Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY) and Waltham, MA-based Alkermes (NASDAQ: ALKS)—said today that their once-weekly injectable version of exenatide (Bydureon) was cleared for sale in Europe as a treatment for diabetes. The drug’s introduction has been delayed by regulators in the U.S., who have asked for more data on the drug’s potential effect on an abnormal heart rhythm known as QT prolongation. The companies said today they expect to respond to the FDA’s questions later this year. Amylin, Lilly, and Alkermes are all counting on this drug to become a future profit driver, as it represents the first once-weekly injectable medicine for diabetes, which often requires many more needlesticks.


Ortiva Raises $2.5 Million

San Diego-based Ortiva Wireless, which specializes in scalable, high-performance technology for optimizing video on wireless networks, has raised $2.5 million in a combination of debt and rights to acquire securities, according to a recent regulatory filing. The company, which intends to raise nearly $3.8 million in this financing, closed its Series C round in venture funding seven months ago, according to VentureWire. Investors include Mission Ventures, Intel Capital, Artiman Ventures, and Comcast Ventures.

GenMark Seeks to Raise at Least $30M

GenMark Diagnostics (NASDAQ: GNMK), a Carlsbad, CA, maker of automated DNA and RNA diagnostics testing systems, said it plans to raise at least $30 million through a secondary offering of its stock to the public at a price of $4.25 per share. The offering, which is expected to close Wednesday, consists of more than 7 million GenMark shares, with an additional 1 million shares available as an option to cover over-allotments.