Medical technology

Red Wing plant to ramp up under new CEO

Longtime Twin Cities businesswoman Tammy Lee has accepted a role as CEO of a company that makes FDA-registered products for therapeutic cooling, including wearables made in Minnesota that treat symptoms of menopause without hormone-replacement therapy.

Lee confirmed this week that she’s becoming CEO of a new entity with the trade name Nanocore Corp., which has a manufacturing operation in Red Wing.

As a subsidiary of Delaware-domiciled DTI Holdings, Nanocore Corp. sells products under the brands Nanohealth USA and Nanopause USA. The products are registered with the Food and Drug Administration as low-risk devices for sale in the U.S.

Although Nanocore’s products include cooling wraps for pain relief for the neck, back, joints and elsewhere, the company plans to put a special emphasis on its $200 shoulder-worn Nanopause wrap for menopause symptoms, Lee said. The products are available online or by prescription.

The company recently began seeking fundraising of $2.5 million in convertible debt that will be used for marketing efforts, particularly media targeted at women for the flagship Nanopause wrap, Lee said.

Nanocore has 10 employees today, but Lee said she hopes to quickly grow that number by the end of the year, as the Red Wing plant ramps up commercial production.

“I want to double or triple the capacity of the Red Wing plant in the next six months, and then an exponential of that next year,” she said. “I’m a new CEO brought in to scale operations as quickly as possible.”

Before working at Nanocore, Lee was most recently the president and CEO of St. Paul biotech startup Recombinetics, which uses gene-editing techniques to create animals for precision breeding and medical research. Lee was the top executive when Recombinetics completed a $34 million Series A capital raise last August.

Joe Carlson

Investment management

After 60 years, Kopp plans to retire

Investment manager Lee Kopp is wrapping up his career after 60 years.

Kopp, 84, will officially retire later this year and close Kopp Investment Advisors, which he founded in 1990, after nearly 30 years as a financial adviser and executive with the former Dain Bosworth.

Kopp’s retirement will allow him to focus on the Kopp Family Foundation and managing family investments through the Kopp family office.

“I could not be more grateful for the trust you have placed in me and the Kopp team,” Kopp said in a statement to friends and investors.

Kopp has focused on his work as a private money manager since he sold the firm’s two publicly traded mutual funds in 2006 to the much-larger American Century mutual-fund complex. In the news release, Kopp Investment said its emerging growth investment strategy has “significantly outperformed” the S&P 500 and its benchmark fund, the Russell 2000 small-company index from inception in 1990 through Dec. 31, 2018.

Kopp, son of a parking-lot attendant, grew up in north Minneapolis, put himself through the University of Minnesota and served as an officer in the Navy before joining Dain. He received numerous industry awards over his career.

Kopp and his wife, Barbara, have become known in recent years for their philanthropy. The Kopp Family Foundation has donated more than $55 million in scholarships, particularly to working-class students attending community colleges.

“Lee and Barbara have touched many lives. We are beyond grateful for their generosity, support, and investment in higher education,” said Michelle Boe, executive director of the foundations for Dakota County Technical College and Inver Hills Community College Foundation.

Neal St. Anthony

Medtronic

Senior spokesman’s job among latest cuts

Medtronic’s senior director of corporate communications, Fernando Vivanco, has left the company amid ongoing restructuring at the medical device maker.

Vivanco’s name atop of Medtronic’s list of corporate communications roster was replaced this week by Francesca DeMartino, Medtronic’s California-based vice president of corporate communications, who reports to Medtronic Global Communications Vice President Rob Clark.

Medtronic’s website currently lists 35 media contacts in therapy groups across the company.

The news of Vivanco’s departure from the $30 billion annual revenue company comes one week after his last official communication with the Star Tribune, in a story confirming job cuts in Medtronic’s cardiac and vascular devices group.

Medtronic, which is run from offices in Fridley, sent a memo to staff recently announcing Vivanco’s departure as part of ongoing restructuring efforts. The memo said Vivanco’s position was eliminated as part of the restructuring.

Joe Carlson