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Sprout Group and Three Arch Partners Collaborate to Found Aspire Medical, Inc.; Initial Focus of New Company is Moderate to Severe Sleep Apnea, Affecting 12 Million or More American Adults.

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Sprout Group and Three Arch Partners announced today that they have funded Aspire Medical, Inc., a development-stage medical device company focused on the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Sprout and Three Arch co-led a $4 million Series A financing in Aspire, proceeds of which will be used to develop and advance the company's proprietary system for OSA.

Erik van der Burg, Aspire Medical's co-founder and CEO, commented, "Aspire has been founded to address the need of patients whose sleep apnea is not controlled by current therapies and devices. We represent a completely new approach, and it is an encouraging validation to have firms like Three Arch and Sprout involved at this early stage of development. Based on the current technology platform and R&D team, we anticipate that we will be able to enter pilot clinical trials as early as mid-2005."

Mike Dineen, co-founder and VP Marketing and Business Development stated, "We already have a great deal in place to be competitive, including support from renowned thought leaders in this area and a portfolio of patent filings for a unique, minimally invasive procedure that provides direct support of the airway. Overall, our approach has the potential to change the way patients with moderate to severe OSA are treated."

About OSA

OSA occurs when part of the upper airway collapses during sleep, blocking airflow. The resulting blockage of breathing results in a mild awakening that is often undetected by the patient, but results in poor sleep quality. Additionally, recent studies have shown a link between OSA and the worsening of other diseases, particularly congestive heart failure (CHF), hypertension and atrial fibrillation. Twelve million American adults, approximately 4% of the population, are afflicted with moderate to severe OSA. Additionally, it is estimated that up to 50 million American adults suffer some form of OSA.

Patients suffering from OSA have limited therapeutic options. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), essentially a nasal mask attached to an air pump, is very effective but is not well tolerated by most patients. Current surgical procedures are an option only for select patients. Aspire Medical believes that there is a large unmet clinical need for a therapeutic option for OSA that is effective, well tolerated by patients and simple to perform.

Andrew Firlik, MD, a Venture Partner at Sprout Group who joined Aspire's Board of Directors, commented, "The Aspire approach represents a major technological advance in the treatment of OSA. We think that our techniques and devices will become a new standard of care for this group of patients."

About Entrepreneurs-in-Residence

Erik van der Burg and Mike Dineen are former members of both Sprout Group and Three Arch Partners' Entrepreneur-in-Residence programs. Jeani Delagardelle, General Partner at Sprout Group, noted that "The EIR program is a great way to incubate early stage medical device companies with experienced entrepreneurs. We favor the idea of bringing together individuals with complementary backgrounds, such as a person with a marketing background paired with a clinical or technical expert." Rich Lin, partner at Three Arch, added "Three Arch's EIR program allows the venture capitalists to be very closely involved with the initial inception of the company and to ensure that the founders have the resources and guidance they need to maximize the chances for early success."

Mr. van der Burg has a 17-year career in the biomedical industry. He was co-founder and Vice President, Research and Development of Appriva Medical, a company focused on devices for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation. He also held executive and management positions within research and development at W.L. Gore and Associates (Prograft Medical), and Guidant (Advanced Cardiovascular Systems), and has a number of patents to his name.

Mr. Dineen has a 17-year career in the biomedical industry and previously was co-founder and Director of Marketing and Business Development of Radiant Medical, which is developing an endovascular temperature therapy system. Prior to this, Mr. Dineen served in marketing management positions at Boston Scientific/Target Therapeutics and Guidant/DVI.

About Aspire Medical

Aspire Medical, Inc. is a development-stage medical device company focused on the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Twelve million or more American adults are afflicted with moderate to severe OSA, for which there are currently limited therapeutic options.

About Three Arch Partners

Three Arch Partners works with entrepreneurs to create new healthcare companies in markets with significant unmet clinical or infrastructure needs. With over $1 billion in committed capital in five funds, we endeavor to back companies that can become dominant in their respective clinical markets.

While we invest in all sectors of healthcare, we emphasize medical devices and healthcare services. Our strategy is to identify and invest in the best people and technology. For further information on Three Arch Partners, please visit our web site at

About The Sprout Group

Founded in 1969, Sprout Group is one of the oldest and largest venture capital firms in the United States. Sprout has helped finance more than 300 companies with combined sales exceeding $40 billion and currently manages approximately $2 billion in committed capital. With offices in Menlo Park and New York, Sprout focuses on helping to grow promising companies at all stages of development in the healthcare technology and information technology sectors. Sprout's healthcare team is actively investing in medical devices, biopharmaceuticals, and laboratory technologies and services. Representative recent healthcare technology investments include: Adolor, Corixa, Epicor, Focus Technologies, ISTA Pharmaceuticals, Kalypsys, Sirna Therapeutics, Spiration, TolerRx, and Visiogen. Sprout Group is a venture capital affiliate of Credit Suisse First Boston. For further information on the Sprout Group, please visit our web site at
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Mar 1, 2004
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