Featured companies: Berkeley HeartLab, Celera Group, the Foundry, Molecular Vision, Morgenthaler VenturesFormer genomics pioneer Celera Group buys Berkeley HealthLab for $195M — Rockville, Md.-based Celera Group, a one-time tie finisher in the race to decode the human genome, has agreed to acquire Berkeley HealthLab, a Burlingame, Calif., heart-related diagnostic company, for $195 million in cash.
Celera, once a high-flying genomics outfit, tried to reinvent itself as a drug-development company following the collapse of the “genomics bubble” earlier this decade, so far with mixed results. The company now says it primarily focuses on “molecular diagnostics” that aim, for instance, to identify disease at an early stage and to shed light on how well treatments are working.
Berkeley HeartLab already offers a variety of such tests specifically tailored to cardiovascular disease, including proprietary ones that monitor HDL (“good”) and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. The company is already profitable, and expects revenues of more than $85 million this year. The company will operate as a unit of Celera following the transaction close.
Medical-device maven Hank Plain to join Morgenthaler — Hank Plain, a co-founder of eight medical-device startups and currently vice-chairman of a device-company incubator, will join Morgenthaler Ventures as a partner in its Menlo Park, Calif., office. Plain will remain vice chairman at the Foundry, the incubator backed by Morgenthaler and Split Rock Partners.
Plain was CEO of Perclose, a device company focused on an automatic process for closing surgical incisions and connecting blood vessels, from 1993 until it was acquired by Abbott Laboratories for $650 million in 1999. He has been active in building new startup ideas into companies at the Foundry, which since 1998 has launched 11 companies that together raised over $500 million in venture capital.
Handheld diagnostic maker Molecular Vision raises $1M — London-based Molecular Vision, a developer of credit-card sized diagnostic devices, raised $1 million (£500,000) from Imperial Innovations Group. The company said the funding would let it “strengthen” its management team and “attract further partners.”
Molecular Vision’s technology certainly sounds impressive — if, that is, it works as expected. The company is combining microfluidics — a sort of “lab-on-a-chip” technique for performing biological tests using extremely small amounts of blood serum or other fluids — with organic semiconductor sensors to create disposable, credit-card sized test panels that could produce high-quality diagnostic data outside of specialized laboratories, such as in a doctor’s office, in ambulances or at home.