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Innovation & Startups

Who says there's no money for startups? ALung gets $14M from local investors

South Side-based ALung Technologies has closed on a $14 million series A financing round with the help of more than 100 angel investors, a majority of them from Pittsburgh.

The funding will allow ALung to complete clinical trials on the Hemolung Respiratory Assist System, the only technology available that offers patients an alternative to intubation and mechanical lung ventilation and the freedom to talk, eat and avoid sedation while lungs are healing.

ALung plans to complete clinical trials in Germany and move onto commercialization as early as 2011 in Europe and 2013 in the U.S., says Peter DeComo, chairman and CEO.  The company is also moving to larger digs, from the Terminal Building to a 15,000-square-foot space at 25th and Jane streets on the South Side by the end of this year.

Hiring is underway. ALung has added four key positions in operations, manufacturing, clinical affairs and finance, bringing the total employee count to 21 full-time.

The deal was the largest ever financed by Mel Pirchesky in his 20 years as president of Eagle Ventures in Shadyside.  The Hemolung, which faces little competition, is looking at a potential $2 billion market share.

"If you have a great opportunity, there's always money," says Pirchesky. "It's not magic. You have to figure out how to articulate things so people really understand the significance of an opportunity. If you can do that, people will invest."

Faced with the present financial market, many investors were eager for a strong investment outside of the stock market, he adds.

"People like to say there's no money for startups," adds Pirchesky. "I'm living proof that's not the case."

ALung was founded in 1997 by Dr. Brack Hattler, a UPMC cardiothoracic surgeon, and Bill Federspiel, director of the Artificial Lung Laboratory at the McGowan Center.

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Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Peter DeComo, ALung; Mel Pirchesky, Eagle Ventures

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