Who will be the next Medtronic? What will be Minnesota's next breakthrough industry? James Walsh will provide the latest information and commentary on the people, companies and trends driving innovation in Minnesota. From visionary entrepreneurs to game changing technologies, this blog offers a window into the future of Minnesota's economy.

Posts about Business trends

M&A, IPO activity improves for venture-backed companies

Posted by: Updated: January 7, 2011 - 10:11 AM
Venture capital companies are expecting heftier returns in 2011, expecting that businesses they've invested in are finally ripe enough to be sold off.
Already, 2010 marked the best year nationwide since 1985 for the number of mergers and acquisitions involving businesses that have received venture capital, according to records by Thomson Reuters and the National Venture Capital Association.
“The record acquisition level illustrates a recognition by larger corporations that there is considerable innovation within these venture-based companies, while (venture capital companies) and founders are acknowledging the acquisition as the smoother exit,” said Mark Heesen, president of the National Venture Capital Association.
The number of initial public offerings by companies receiving venture capital investment has risen to its largest number since 2007, according to Thomson Reuters and the NCVA.
During the recession, mergers and acquisitions slowed down, making it difficult for venture capital firms to exit their current investments and put in money in new businesses.
Still, there is the issue of whether venture capital firms can raise enough money to start new funds. Venture capitalists in a recent survey nationwide said they believe limited partners have an advantage in fundraising negotiations.
"They have a limited amount of capital and a lot more [firms] competing for it," said G. Steven Burrill, CEO of Burrill & Co.
Burrill told the Star Tribune in 2009 that he planned to raise a $1 billion fund to help bring biotech companies to Pine Island's Elk Run biobusiness park. He's still working on closing the deal with a sovereign wealth fund.
"We're making reasonably good progress on it," Burrill said last week. "We're in very serious dialogue with a single investor. We thought it would be done at year's end."

Twin Cities had one of the worst high-tech job losses during the recession, report says

Posted by: Updated: December 17, 2010 - 8:26 AM

The Minneapolis-St. Paul area had one of the worst job losses in the high-tech industry during the recession, according to a report released this month by the TechAmerica Foundation.

The area lost 3,800 tech jobs during 2008 to 2009, which the report ranks as the 45th out of 60 U.S. metropolitan cities. Total amount of high-tech jobs in 2009 in the area was 98,600, a decline of four percent, the report said.

The average high-tech job in the Twin Cities earns $81,600 a year, according to the report. Most of the job losses were in the computer systems design sector, TechAmerica Foundation said.

Despite the job losses, the Twin Cities ranked well in the number of people it employs in certain tech sectors compared to the rest of the nation. For example, it ranked first in the number of people it employs in the manufacturing of electronic medical devices. The area also ranked third in the manufacturing of measuring and control instruments such as electronic thermometers and fourth in computer and peripheral equipment.

"The Twin Cities are not only a leading cluster for medical equipment but also for the technology industry in general," said Joy Lindsay, chair of the Minnesota High Tech Association's board of directors in a statement. Lindsay said the Twin Cities had "many of the critical inputs needed for a vibrant tech industry" which include talent, a strong education system and focus on innovation.

Overall, the Twin Cities ranked 13th nationwide based on 2009 data, moving up one place from the year before. That's because Detroit fell in the rankings, TechAmerica Foundation said.

Hennepin Technical College receives $2.6 million grant to train workers in biotech manufacturing

Posted by: Updated: June 29, 2010 - 5:43 PM

Hennepin Technical College will receive more than $2.6 million in grant money to train workers in biotech manufacturing, the U.S. Department of Labor announced on Tuesday.

The Brooklyn Park college said it will train about 350 workers starting in late August, giving them technical education so they can be prepared for advances in fields such as medical devices, biologics, biopharma and renewable materials.

"We're developing (a) workforce for these new jobs that will be created," said Katherine Sellner, the college's director of health sciences and biomanufacturing. Companies "are limited by what they can develop by the workforce available," she added.

Analysts said they believe the training will help make Minnesota more attractive for companies in the life sciences industry.

"Ultimately (it) is very attractive to companies that want to move here or grow here to have that workforce at their fingertips," said Liz Rammer, executive vice president of trade association LifeScience Alley.

The money given to Hennepin Technical College was part of $125 million worth of grants given to 41 community colleges and organizations by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Want to launch a model rocket using your iPod?

Posted by: Updated: June 16, 2010 - 5:45 PM

Want to launch a rocket by pressing a button on your iPod touch? With the necessary tools, Steve Dye believes you can use his company's NanoSpark controller with your iPod to do just that.

The controller, which will launch this fall, manages output control for analog and digital signals, said Dye, founder and president of Altoona, Wis.-based Senasys.

The iPod touch would connect to the controller that would be wired to other devices. In the rocket example, a user presses a button on their iPod that send a signal to the controller. Then, an electric charge would be sent through the wires that would eventually ignite the model rocket, Dye said.

Senasys joins a number of regional companies who are developing iPhone or iPod accessories that can enhance the device's function from preventing disease to monitoring temperature. Developers say creating products that use Apple's device is cheaper than building your own product from scratch. More iPhone accessories under development by local companies can be found here.

The NanoSpark controller can be used to work with other sensors, such as monitoring temperature, and can be also used to help with production, Dye said. The product, aimed at commerical and industrial companies, educators and hobbyists, will enable them to develop projects faster and at a lower cost than buying a computer, he added.

NanoSpark will be a brand under Senasys. Dye estimates the controller will sell for under $100.

Covidien agrees to purchase ev3 Inc. in $2.6 billion deal

Posted by: Updated: June 1, 2010 - 12:40 PM

Plymouth, Minn.-based endovascular company ev3 Inc. will be purchased by an Ireland healthcare products business in a $2.6 billion deal, both companies announced on Tuesday.

Covidien, which specializes in medical devices, pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, agreed to buy ev3 Inc. at $22.50 a share in cash. That’s about a 19 percent increase from ev3’s stock price last Friday.

Richard J. Meelia, Covidien’s chairman, president and CEO, said the acquisition will help his company expand its presence in the vascular market.

The deal is expected to be completed by July 31. Ev3 is relatively new publicly traded company, filing its IPO in 2005. The company raised $165 million in net proceeds in its IPO.

Ev3's stock was trading at $22.21 on the Nasdaq on Tuesday afternoon, up $3.29 a share.



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