Dick Sass launches innovation fund

| Print |  Email
Articles - July 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010

 

0710_ATS04
PHOTO COURTESY DICK SASS

Dick Sass has 45 years’ experience starting companies, creating jobs and running businesses. One thing he’s  never tried is launching a venture capital fund — until now.

Sass, 67, recently partnered with medical devices expert Brian Brandell and longtime Portland investors Wayne Embree and Brock Metcalf to launch the Biomed Innovation Fund. His goal is to raise $20 million to help young companies that have developed “extraordinary technologies.”

Turning extraordinary technologies into jobs has been a consistent theme throughout Sass’ career. After moving to Oregon from Chicago in 1975 he launched Precision Interconnect in Wilsonville. Precision took cable technology developed by previous generations of engineers (including Sass’ father and grandfather) and vastly modernized it for use in ultrasound machines. Sass built Precision from a few dozen employees in the 1980s to 500 in 1991, when he sold the company.

Following that sale Sass founded two companies focused on wiring cable into a whole new arena: the human body. iSense, launched in 1995, develops continuous glucose monitors for people with diabetes. MicroHelix, launched in 1997 and sold to St. Jude in 2003, creates cable systems for medical devices that are implanted inside the body, such as pacemakers.

Between taking MicroHelix public and developing a $17 million partnership between iSense and an unnamed pharmaceutical giant, Sass has learned some lessons. He also knows about roadblocks. His plan with iSense was to get a product to market within five years; it’s been 15 years and counting.

Now he hopes to put both good and bad experiences to work, mentoring entrepreneurs supported by his new fund.

“A lot of venture funds are run by young guys with MBAs who are book smart but have no operational experience,” he says. “I’ve got a PhD in running companies and satisfying customer needs.”

Sass has already begun reaching out to promising young companies hungry for capital, as well as established pharmaceutical and medical device giants in need of new products to feed their pipelines. He plans for the $20 million fund to be the “first of several.”

BEN JACKLET
 

More Articles

Fueling Up for the Climb

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY GREGG MORRIS

Rita Hansen aims to scale natural gas vehicle innovation.


Read more...

Back to School

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE

Oregon is home to an abundance of gritty warehouses reborn as trendy office spaces, as well as crafty hipsters turned entrepreneurs. Does the combination yield an equally bounteous office products sector? Not so much. Occupying the limited desk jockey space are Field Notes, a spinoff of Portland’s Draplin Design Company, and Schuttenworks, known for whittling Apple device stands. For a full complement of keyboard trays, docking stations and mouse pads, check out the GroveMade line, guaranteed to boost the cachet of even the lowliest cubicle drone. 


Read more...

Department of Self-Promotion

Linda Baker
Tuesday, August 04, 2015

061715-awards1Oregon Business wins journalism awards.


Read more...

Storyteller in Chief: Natural Prophets

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY SAM BLACKMAN

Storyteller-in-chief with the CEO and co-founder of Elemental Technologies.


Read more...

Living the dream

News
Friday, August 21, 2015

smugglespearsthumbRenee Spears, founder and owner of Portland-based Rose City Mortgage, is hot to trot to sell pot.


Read more...

Portland’s long-distance bike commuters

The Latest
Monday, August 03, 2015
Matt KellyresizethumbBY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

Pushing the extreme.


Read more...

Staffing Challenge

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Greg Lambert, president of Mid Oregon Personnel Services.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS