CA Venture Capital Firm to Open Twin Cities Office

Kirk Nielsen, who will serve as the sole investment professional in Versant Ventures’ local office, said his firm believes that the Twin Cities constitute “a great place to build companies, and our opening of an office there is a sign of our long-term commitment to the region.”

Versant Ventures—a Silicon Valley venture capital firm that specializes in early-stage medical device and biotech companies—is opening a Twin Cities office next month.

Menlo Park, California-based Versant is no stranger to Minnesota, having invested in numerous local and Midwestern companies.

Founded in 1999, Versant has $1.6 billion under management and is now investing a $500 million fund that it raised in July 2008. There are more than 75 companies in its portfolio, and it has two California offices in addition to its headquarters—one in Newport Beach and another in San Francisco.

Versant’s Kirk Nielsen, a Minnesota native working in California, will return to the state in early July and serve as the firm’s sole investment professional in the Twin Cities office. According to his bio on Versant’s website, he joined the firm from Fridley-based Medtronic, Inc., where he was a sales representative for the company’s cardiac rhythm management division.

“We’ve been one of the most active VC investors in Minnesota and the Midwest over the past five years, and we expect that activity to continue,” Nielsen told Twin Cities Business in a Tuesday e-mail. “We believe it’s a great place to build companies, and our opening of an office there is a sign of our long-term commitment to the region.”

Nielsen added that Versant is still in the process of finding permanent space, so it’s not yet known precisely where the Twin Cities office will be located.

Local companies in Versant’s investment portfolio include Minnetonka-based Respicardia, which is developing an implantable system to treat sleep apnea in patients with heart failure, and Minneapolis-based Zyga Technology, which makes minimally invasive surgical solutions to treat various spine conditions.

Versant also funded Lutonix, a maker of drug-coated balloon catheters that was based in Maple Grove until Murray Hill, New Jersey-based C.R. Bard bought it for $225 million in December 2011.

Another local company in Versant’s portfolio: Minneapolis-based health care technology firm RedBrick Health, which helps companies achieve high levels of employee health engagement and reduce avoidable health care costs.

“As predominantly early-stage investors who like to roll up our sleeves, it is certainly helpful to have our companies nearby,” Nielsen said. “Historically, the majority of the investments we’ve made have been in regions where our offices are located, and I suspect that trend will continue.”