SANTA ROSA — TriVascular2's steady growth — the medical device maker has 150 employees now and will add another 20 before the year is out — is not just an anomaly in the down economy, it's a tribute to the belief its founders, workers and investors have in the products under development there.
Abandoned by medical device giant Boston Scientific two years ago, just one year after its acquisition, TriVascular2 roared back to life one year ago with funding of $65 million from new and returning investors and an additional $30 million for future clinical trials.
During the two years it took to negotiate with Boston Scientific about buying back the intellectual property, the original TriVascular employees, numbering about 275 at the time of its closure, found other jobs. But once TriVascular2 was established, many came back.
"About 120 of our employees are alumnae," said founder and CEO Michael Chobotov. "It tells you that people were excited to get back to work on our products."
TriVascular2 has two products under development simultaneously, an unusual situation, he said.
One is a stent-graft for the treatment of aneurisms in the abdominal aorta, the other a stent-graft for aneurisms in the thoracic aorta, conditions that are the leading cause of death of people over 65.
Both products represent an advance over abdominal and thoracic stents now on the market or in clinical trials, according to Dr. Chobotov.
"We truly believe that our technology is the best, that it will expand the population of patients who can be treated with minimally invasive stent-grafts and greatly improve the treatment of the existing treatable population," he said.
Also making abdominal and thoracic stents are Medtronic, Cook Medical Products and W L Gore. The market, valued at $1 billion, is huge and growing due to aging populations.
TriVascular2 is close-mouthed about the progress of its clinical trials.
"We're keeping our heads down currently to keep the competition guessing," said Dr. Chobotov.
TriVascular2 will seek a second round of funding later this year from the same investor group that furnished the Series A, he said.
That round was led by MPM Capital and New Enterprise Associates Inc. and included Delphi Ventures and Kearny Venture Partners, two of the original company's largest investors. Boston Scientific retains a minority interest in the company.
"If the public market opens up, we might consider an IPO as a way to raise capital for more rapid expansion, but it's tough to predict when and if that might happen. And we're always open to the idea of sharing clinical trial costs with a strategic partner," said Dr. Chobotov.
"Despite our experience with Boston Scientific, those kinds of relationships continue to be a viable way to help bring a product to market."