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June 4, 2008

 

NYS PENSION FUND AND HIGH PEAKS INVEST
$2 MILLION IN BUFFALO COMPANY

The New York State Common Retirement Fund (the Fund) and High Peaks Venture Partners have invested $2 million in the SmartPill Corporation, a Buffalo-based medical technology company, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced today. The infusion of capital will allow SmartPill to move its manufacturing to Buffalo from Los Angeles.

“SmartPill is a perfect example of how we can do well for the members of the retirement system while doing good for New York businesses,” DiNapoli said. “SmartPill is at the cutting edge of the expanding medical diagnostic industry. This is a great investment for the pension fund, and a good step toward attracting more medical technology business to Buffalo.”

“I commend State Comptroller DiNapoli for guiding this investment into a business that has established a firm foothold in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and will grow further with these key investment funds from the New York State Common Retirement Fund and High Peaks Venture Partners," said Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown. "The initial promise of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is being fulfilled and expanded by companies such as SmartPill Corporation and, with the investment by the state and private sector partners, we are witnessing the transfer of knowledge-based research and development into growing more hi-tech, high paying jobs, especially when you add in the company's manufacturing component that will now be based in Buffalo. This is great news.”

As part of its In-state Private Equity Program, the Fund invested $1.25 million through its investment partner High Peaks. High Peaks also invested $750,000, bringing the total amount of capital to $2 million.

“SmartPill is a great example of how upstate New York’s technology and talent can attract significant investment from venture capital firms and the New York State Common Retirement Fund,” said Bela L. Musits, Managing Director of High Peaks Venture Partners. “We have been working with the SmartPill team for several years and are consistently impressed by their ability to develop technology-based products to improve patient health. High Peaks is excited to be part of SmartPill and we are confident that the company will continue to grow in the months and years ahead.”

“This is a significant round of financing for the company, led by the New York State Common Retirement Fund and quality venture capitalists who add tremendous value in terms of strategic thinking and business development,” said David Barthel, President & CEO of SmartPill. “This capital will provide the funds needed to expand our business.”

The capital provided by the Fund and High Peaks will enable SmartPill to move its manufacturing from Los Angeles, California to Buffalo, New York and add to its direct sales force. The company anticipates hiring 12 workers over the next two years.

The infusion of funds will also enable SmartPill to continue to conduct clinical trials to expand its indications for use and pursue a unique insurance reimbursement code.

SmartPill’s Gastrointestinal (GI) Monitoring System uses innovative capsule-based sensor technology to provide a complete profile of a patient’s gastrointestinal tract. The one-time use SmartPill Capsule compliments endoscopy and has the potential to replace hospital-based exams, such as gastric emptying scintigraphy. The system provides patients with a comfortable and less invasive alternative to currently existing diagnostic technologies.

SmartPill Corporation is a leading developer of capsule-based medical devices that aid in the diagnosis, definition and therapeutic intervention of gastrointestinal (GI) motility disorders and diseases. The SmartPill GI Monitoring System was approved for sale and use in Canada in June 2006 and was granted 510(k) release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in July 2006.

Through its In-state Private Equity Program, the Fund invests with private equity managers who seek to invest in companies in New York State that require capital for growth. The program, created in 1999, targets investment of state funds in the New York State economy. The program is designed to provide investment returns consistent with the risk of private equity while also expanding the availability of capital for New York businesses. The program aims to help generate jobs and private sector investment in the state.

Since 2000, $345.1 million has been invested in 117 companies through the In-state Private Equity Program. DiNapoli has committed an additional $408 million to the program since he took office a year ago, bringing the total amount committed to the program to $861 million.

About the Common Retirement Fund
The $154.5 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund is the third largest public pension plan in the United States with more than one million members, retirees and beneficiaries from state and local governments. Comptroller DiNapoli is the sole trustee of the Fund and manages a diversified portfolio of public and private equities, fixed income, real estate and alternative instruments.

About High Peaks Venture Partners
High Peaks Venture Partners (www.hpvp.com), based in Troy, NY, is the largest early stage venture fund in Upstate New York, with nearly $50 million in capital under management. The fund is focused on emerging technology businesses throughout New York State, and is a part of the Village Ventures nationwide network of regionally focused venture capital funds. The High Peaks team brings substantial experience as venture investors, entrepreneurs, and business advisors across a variety of industries.

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