In a slumping U.S. venture capital market, Plymouth-based Mardil Medical just raised an amount equivalent to one-third of that raised by Minnesota companies in the entire fourth quarter of last year. And $5 million of the $6.1252 million came from a Malaysian venture fund chartered by that Asian government.

Minneapolis-based LifeScience Alley, the regional trade group, made the connection for Mardil through its international network.

In an interview last week, Mardil CEO Jim Buck, a veteran of St. Jude Medical Inc. and a fledgling med-tech company that he sold at a rich premium, said U.S. venture capitalists remain concerned about the slow pace of federal regulatory approvals and unable to raise fresh funds after the recession and concerns over reduced health care spending and reforms.

“Six or seven years ago, we would have been able to raise venture money here,” said Buck, 50. “The venture groups who survived the downturn … have not been able to raise new funds. They are focusing their dollars on sustaining their current investments ... later-stage med-tech and life-science companies.

“I moved this company from Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, to Minnesota because the talent is here and I can do everything I need from Plymouth.”

Buck said Mardil’s flagship product will enhance outcomes and reduce cost, so it’s ironic he couldn’t raise U.S. financing, other than the $1 million put in by company insiders.

Mardil’s “VenTouch” system is a minimally invasive implantable device designed to treat moderate and severe functional mitral valve regurgitation, a condition affecting more than 600,000 people in the United States and that often leads to heart failure. The current approach requires heart surgery.

The $6.1 million in fresh capital, on top of $5 million invested several years ago, will allow Mardil to complete final development of the VenTouch system, conduct clinical ­trials and get regulatory approval in Europe, Asia and Canada, followed by anticipated U.S. regulatory approval and commercialization.

The VenTouch technology is rooted largely in intellectual property and assets that it acquired from the former Acorn Cardiovascular, which ran out of money after $110 million and several years of tests, as well as another company that ran out of cash, Myocor.

“Our approach is less invasive, less costly and directly addresses the underlying root cause of the condition in a safe fashion,” he said.

dell’s deal to go private could be a boost for Eden Prairie unit, former exec says


Phil Soran, who sold his publicly held Compellent data-storage company to Dell in a cash deal of about $800 million two years ago, said he thought last week’s announced privatization of Dell Computer would be good for the Eden Prairie-based unit of Dell Storage.

“Michael Dell has said he wants to invest in enterprise-type products, which fits Compellent’s sweet spot,” Soran said in an interview last week. “I’m not privy … but I hope Compellent is a big part of it.”

Soran left what is now Dell Compellent last year. The unit has grown from about 550 to 850 jobs since the Dell acquisition and leased additional space in Eden Prairie.

A Dell Compellent spokeswoman said Dell’s data-storage research team is based in Eden Prairie and that the number of customers has more than doubled to 6,000 since 2011.

Last week, Dell announced one of the largest Compellent-related deals ever, a sale of storage technology to the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology with an initial capacity of three petabytes, or the equivalent of 60 million four-drawer filing cabinets filled with text.

students win women in tech awards


Sarah Aladetan, a junior at Park Center Senior High School in Brooklyn Park, is one of only 35 students nationally to win the National Center for Women & Information Technology’s “Aspirations in Computing Award.’’ Dorothy O’Berry, a senior at Como Park High School in St. Paul, was selected as a runner-up for the national award.

They were among an applicant pool of more than 1,800 students.

A few years ago, Aladetan taught herself computer programming from one of her father’s old college textbooks. At the time, she didn’t know it would quickly turn into her main passion. Today, she’s a member of her school’s robotics club and hopes to one day launch a start-up that combines her passion for programming and an interest in design or music.

Among Aladetan’s many national and state prizes, she will receive a $1,000 scholarship from MnSCU to be applied to a MnSCU school of her choice.

Aladetan, who will attend the 2013 Bank of America Future Technology Stars Conference in North Carolina, won $500 and a laptop computer.

The awards program was created to increase interest among women in computer-related professions. There are only enough U.S. college graduates to fill 30 percent of computer-specialist jobs and women are underrepresented in the industry.




legal tab for petters money man: $3m


Attorneys for Frank Vennes Jr., the prolific money-raising partner of Tom Petters, have collected more than $3 million representing Vennes in a variety of criminal and civil proceedings. Vennes’ legal team was led by James Volling of Faegre Baker Daniels and included up to seven attorneys. Vennes pleaded guilty to two criminal charges on Feb. 1 for his role in the $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme. His legal bills were paid out of his estate that’s controlled by court-appointed receiver Gary Hansen of Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly. Petters’ legal tab, paid largely by an insurance policy, came in at $3.3 million.