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

10 Oregon companies positioning themselves for growth

The Latest
Friday, March 13, 2015
vcthumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Ten startups have secured venture capital, angel or seed funding in 2015.


Read more...

Are wolves good for business?

Contributed Blogs
Friday, March 06, 2015
030615-wolf-thumbBY JEFF DELKIN | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

As a local business owner, I believe it’s important to build our economy on a platform of conservation values.  


Read more...

Oregon Business expands events portfolio

The Latest
Friday, March 27, 2015
htctfacebookBY OB STAFF

New events series brings magazine to life.


Read more...

6 development projects reshaping Bend

The Latest
Thursday, April 09, 2015
bendthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Bend has reclaimed its prerecession title as one of the fastest growing cities in the country.


Read more...

Get on the bus!

April 2015
Thursday, March 19, 2015
BY APRIL STREETER

How the private sector can ride the next transit revolution.


Read more...

5 highlights from the Angel Oregon Showcase

The Latest
Thursday, April 23, 2015
IMG 5069BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The entrepreneurial spirit was alive and well at the Oregon Angel showcase, an annual event for angel investors and early stage entrepreneurs.


Read more...

5 questions for inDinero CEO Jessica Mah

The Latest
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
jessicathumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

inDinero, a business that manages back-office accounting for startups and smaller companies, recently announced it would relocate its headquarters from San Francisco to Portland. We talked to CEO Jessica Mah about what drew her to Portland and how she plans to disrupt the traditional CPA model.


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