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May 29, 2006

Orthopedic device startup funded, seeks space

SANTA ROSA - Medical device startup Sonoma Orthopedic Products Inc. has closed a Series A round of venture-capital funding and is looking for space in Santa Rosa.

Founded by a team that includes two orthopedic surgeons, Sonoma Orthopedic is operating in quiet mode, hesitating to disclose information that might tip off potential competitors, according to President and Chief Technology Officer Charles Nelson.

He would only say the company is focused on "novel devices for bone repair. Orthopedics is a tough space, and we have several competitors. We'd like to keep them guessing at this point."

The amount of funds raised was undisclosed, but the round was co-led by Asset Management Company of Palo Alto and EDF Ventures of Ann Arbor, Mich.

Asset Management was an early stage investor in TriVascular, the aortic stent graft maker acquired by Boston Scientific. EDF Ventures invested in DirectFlow Medical, which makes an aortic tissue valve prosthesis.

Other investors in Sonoma Orthopedic include The Halo Fund and The Angels' Forum, both based in Palo Alto.

"Sonoma Orthopedic Products is an exciting addition to our portfolio of life science investments," said Graham Crooke of Asset Management Company.

"With its intellectual property and management team, this venture has an exceptional opportunity to change the standard of care in orthopedic medicine."

Mike DeVries, general manager with EDF Ventures commented, "Game changing opportunities in the orthopedic space are difficult to find. We're impressed with the design skills of the SOP founders and the vision they have in pushing the envelope of the orthopedic community."

Mr. Nelson developed orthopedic products for Stryker Corp. as well as other medical devices for Bristol Myers Squibb, Therasense Inc. and Abbott. He is named on 12 patents, including a third-generation bone cement mixing technique, a blood glucose monitor and, along with Sonoma Orthopedic co-founder Heber Saravia, a laparascopic irrigating system.

Sonoma Orthopedic founders include Mr. Nelson, electrical engineer Phillip Jobson, orthopedic surgeons Kai Mazur and Stephen Guntherand and Mr. Saravia, an inventor whose name is on nine patents.

According to Mr. Nelson, the company has about 10 employees. Headquarters and lab space are being sought in several Santa Rosa business parks, including the area near the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport, where a cluster of medical device companies is already located.

Medtronic, Boston Scientific, Medlogics Device Corporation and DirectFlow Medical occupy space near the airport.

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