PowerVision raises $24 million with a little help from Medtronic


Medtronic Inc. (NYSE:MDT) has signed on as an investor in a $24 million financing round for PowerVision Inc.

The Belmont, Calif.-based PowerVision develops intraocular lenses with a novel technology that uses fluid inside the lens that allows natural forces in the eye to change the lens’ shape and provide better focusing ability.

Other investors in the C round include Venrock, Advanced Technology Ventures, Frazier Healthcare Ventures and Panorama Capital.

"PowerVision believes its technology has the potential to create an average of 5 or more diopters of power change, equivalent to the accommodative range of a 35 year old, creating true independence from spectacles or other corrective lenses in patients who receive its implant. PowerVision’s products are not yet approved or cleared for sale," company officials said in a release.

Medtronic is an investor in another Advanced Technology Ventures portfolio company, GI Dynamics of Lexington, Mass. MDT put $15 million in the company back in January 2010.

Terms of the investment were not announced, but Medtronic has made a practice of placing side bets on potentially disruptive technologies. The company has about $300 million spread around in emerging technologies, according to former CEO Bill Hawkins.

Hawkins told MassDevice that Fridley, Minn.-based Medtronic is always looking for new technologies it may have a strategic interest in.

"We survey the landscape continuously to see who’s doing what, whether it’s in obesity or sleep apnea, hypertension — areas that fit into this product/disease mantra," he told us. "We’re very creative in terms of how we structure these deals in some cases its straight equity, convertible notes, in some cases debt financing. There’s no cookie cutter method for how we do a deal with a company."

Implants of intraocular lenses in the U.S. exceed 3 million each year, PowerVision officials said. Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) has been in the game since September 2009 when it acquired Visiogen Inc. and its intraocular lens technology for $400 million, and the company landed FDA clearance for its TECNIS Multifocal 1-Piece intraocular lens in March 2010.

Medtronic ranked 5th on the MassDevice Big 100 list of the world’s largest medical device companies.

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