Lois Quam leaves Piper Jaffray to start incubator
The former UnitedHealth exec plans to promote start-ups in health and clean energy and link technology of Minnesota and Norway.
Lois Quam, the former senior UnitedHealth Group executive who joined Piper Jaffray & Co. as its alternative investments chief, has left the investment bank after less than two years on the job.
Quam is launching Tysvar, a business incubator that will help develop start-ups in health care and clean energy and strengthen technology transfer between Minnesota and Norway. The company is named after her grandfather’s hometown in Norway.
Quam’s exit comes as Piper is struggling to generate deals amid global credit markets weakened by the recession. Under her brief tenure, the company did not make any investments of the type contemplated when she came aboard.
In an interview, Quam said she wished to return to her roots as an entrepreneur — a role, she said, where she can be the most effective.
“I’m focused on ways to finding solutions to really significant problems and taking those ideas to full potential,” Quam said. “Piper does a wonderful job financing companies. I want to bring the green economy to reality in a way that is much broader than financing. I want to focus on areas where I can make the most difference bringing the green economy to scale.”
She added: “Simply having cups of coffee will not help me in getting companies to grow.”
Both Piper and Quam took pains to say that the split was amicable and that Tysvar and Piper would collaborate on projects.
“Lois has been an important contributor to our ongoing leadership in the clean technology and renewable space,” Piper CEO Andrew Duff said in a statement. “We have significantly benefited from her visionary thinking at Piper Jaffray. As Lois builds on her life’s work in health care reform and the new green economy, we look forward to partnering in initiatives that foster innovation and growth among leading companies in these important sectors.”
Duff declined to say more. A Piper spokesman said the company would not replace Quam.