Med-Tech Firm Holaira Raises $42M, Plans Clinical Trial

Founded in 2008, Holaira is working to treat the debilitating symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Plymouth-based med-tech company Holaira announced Thursday that it closed on a round of $42 million in funding.
Holaira is working to develop a lung therapy that will make it easier for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to breathe—the company says the condition affects 15 million people in the United States and almost 190 million people worldwide.
According to Holaira, COPD is “one of the leading, yet under-recognized, causes of morbidity and mortality” and is characterized by a limited airflow caused by the narrowing of airways, which results in shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing.
Vertex Venture Holdings—a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore-based investment firm Temasek Holdings—led the private equity financing round, along with Windham Venture Partners, two unnamed “strategic investors,” and all of the company’s existing venture investors.
Holaira was started in Seattle in 2008 as Innovative Pulmonary Solutions, Inc., but moved to Minnesota and rebranded itself in January 2012, a few months after serial entrepreneur Dennis Wahr showed interest in the company and signed on as president and CEO.

Wahr previously served as CEO for two local med-tech companies that were sold off to big industry players. In 2001, Wahr co-founded and served as CEO of cardiology device company Velocimed, Inc., which was sold to Little Canada–based St. Jude Medical, Inc., in 2005 for $82.5 million. Later he led Lutonix, Inc., which was sold to New Jersey–based C. R. Bard, Inc., in late 2011, in a $225 million deal.
According to the company, proceeds from the financing will be used to support the first clinical trial for its catheter-based system for a procedure that is meant to make breathing easier for those with COPD.
“This financing signals a strong endorsement from the investment community for our product development progress and support for our upcoming clinical trials for the Holaira Lung Denervation System,” Wahr said in a statement. “After completion of multiple animal studies and two human feasibility trials, we are ready to initiate the first randomized clinical trial with a sham control for targeted lung denervation therapy.”
Meanwhile, the company also announced the addition of Lincoln Chee, a Vertex Venture partner, to its board of directors.
In other investing news, Minnetonka-based TrackIf, LLC, announced Wednesday that it closed on $3 million in debt funding from new and existing investors and venture funds.
Founded by Minneapolis-based entrepreneur Doug Berg in 2012, TrackIf provides a free service that allows users to track anything they want on the Web, keeping them aware of key events they want to monitor online using a private account. The company had closed on about $1.2 million of its $3 million goal by January.
Additionally, two Minneapolis startups—Docalytics and Kidizen—were selected during the first-ever “Google for Entrepreneurs Demo Day” on Wednesday to receive $100,000 each in funding.