June 16, 2010

Wyden: Commitment to Invest in Oregon Company Good News for Nanotech Jobs, Health Care Costs and Those with Kidney Disease

Portland, OR – In a major victory for the future of nanotechnology and for the Oregon economy, Senator Ron Wyden said that today’s announcement that the private equity firm Warburg Pincus has committed to investing up to $50 million in the Oregon company Home Dialysis Plus is good news for lower health care costs, Oregon jobs and those suffering from kidney disease.

“This commitment by Warburg Pincus in the technology developed by HD+ is a tremendous advance for kidney dialysis patients and for the cause of lowering the costs of health care,” Wyden said. “It is also a victory for nanotech jobs, since HD+ plans to develop its their new portable dialysis system right here in Oregon. HD+ is now poised to become a market leader in this medically critical technology, and that can only help further establish Oregon’s reputation as a location of choice for nanoscience companies and capital.”

“It is also a victory for the ever-growing promise of nanoscience and microtechnology and how targeted, smart public investment can trigger job-creating private investment,” Wyden added. “ By 2015, nanotechnology is expected to be a $2 trillion industry. That’s why I believe that nanotechnology and its applications in medicine, manufacturing, information technology, energy and a host of other applications is going to drive the 21st Century economy, and why I want Oregon, through the leadership of the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute, to be in the vanguard of this exciting new field.” 

The commitment by Warburg Pincus will allow HD+ to further the development of a portable dialysis system that is intended to allow patients to experience the benefits of frequent dialysis, a treatment regime that more closely simulates natural kidney processes and has been shown to reduce post-treatment recovery time.  

Michael Baker, president and CEO of HD+, said that Wyden’s ability to recognize early on the potential for the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI) as a world-class  research center and on the need for micro and nano-based inventions provided the basis for today’s announcement.  

“Today’s dialysis patients, doctors and providers are demanding improvements and cost-effective alternatives to standard treatment regimes,” Baker, said. “Thanks to the commitment of Warburg Pincus, we now have the ability to advance the HD+ technology in hopes of meeting that demand. It’s a privilege to have investors of this caliber and depth supporting such an effort.” 

Wyden and Baker credited ONAMI and the Oregon State Venture Fund for previous investments that propelled HD+ to an investor-ready position. Their initial support was the financial springboard for HD+ to advance its technology to a point that the company could receive outside funding. The company has already returned the favor by creating 36 new family wage jobs within the region and intends to continue expanding its team in the months ahead. 

Currently, the standard of care for most kidney patients is a series of four-hour treatments, three times per week at a dialysis clinic, a rigorous regime that can be both physiologically and emotionally taxing. The HD+ system is intended to offer a gentler treatment that will be easier on the patient and more affordable for dialysis providers.  

Since 2005, Wyden has helped secure more than $45 million in appropriations for ONAMI. Major developments in Oregon’s commitment to nanotechnology: 

January 2002 - With Oregon Business Council as his partner, Wyden helps launch the Oregon Business Summit.  In the opening speech at the summit, he calls for investment in nanotech to increase Oregon's prospects as a future hub for commercial nanotechnology.

June 2004 – The Congressional Nanotechnology Caucus is created with U.S. Senator Ron Wyden as co-chair. The caucus is created to promote nanotechnology, educate policy makers about this emerging area, and facilitate communications between industrial and academic researchers and the Hill.

December 2005 – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) announce that Oregon will receive $5 million in funding for nanotechnology projects for the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI ).

February 2006 – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) win an $8 million appropriation for the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI) to oversee a new Oregon nanotechnology center.

December 2006 – The full U.S. Senate approves a Defense appropriations bill, which includes more than $11 million for Oregon nanotechnology projects through the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI). The legislation includes significant funding for research and development of new medical, energy and other technologies with the potential for both defense and commercial applications.

July 2008 – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR.) and Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) introduce the Nanotechnology Innovation and Prize Competition Act. The bill would authorize the Department of Commerce to administer prize competitions in up to four nanotechnology categories: green nanotechnology, alternative energy, human health and commercialization of consumer products.

March 2010 In an effort to develop the next generation of scientists and engineers leading innovation in nanotechnology, U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) introduce the Promote Nanotechnology in Schools Act to help schools such as community colleges, universities, and even high schools purchase the advanced equipment needed to educate students and train workers in this emerging field.