It was early in the morning at the Medtech Innovator finals at Advamed 2016 in Minneapolis, but you wouldn’t have guessed it given the way everyone was perched precariously on the edge of their seats. The tension in the room was palpable as four tremendously compelling early stage medical technology companies fought for the coveted $200,000 grand prize. The presenters spoke eloquently about the healthcare need they were attempting to address, and elicited oohs and ahhs with their groundbreaking solutions. Unfortunately, there could only be one winner.
The pitches started with Adient Medical. Mitch Eggers got on stage and began to highlight the initial excitement about IVC filters and their potential to prevent pulmonary emboli. Unfortunately, filters turned out to have significant downsides which include costly removal procedures or complications such as perforation and/or migration/fragmentation. His company looks to revive the initial promise of IVC filters by creating an absorbable “set it and forget it” solution. Mitch’s technology was impressive with a nifty animation to demonstrate the technology in action. Unfortunately, he went a bit over his time which limited the Q&A portion of the pitch, which may have been disappointing for the audience yearning to get more information.
Next up was Anne Osdoit from Safe Heal. Her company creates a device that has eluded medical technology companies for years: a way to bypass an intestinal anastamosis to allow it time to heal without the concern for leaks or infections. She connected her story to a personal anecdote which upped the stakes. I think what impressed me most is that she is the only full time member of the company currently, which was unbelievable considering how much Safe Heal has accomplished.
Next up? Cory Kidd from Catalia Health and his friend and product, Mabu the Robot. Catalia Health is a personalized healthcare management platform that uses the latest in machine learning and human-machine interaction knowledge to create a compelling and usable system to improve patient/physician communication, wellness, and treatment adherence. The robot is borderline creepy, but once he started interacting with Mabu, it won the audience over with some cute expressions of wanting to be helpful. It was as if you gave Alexa a face and a tablet interface with specialized health tracking abilities.
Finally, Jamie Haggard from Green Sun Medical took the stage. He very quickly and emotionally painted a picture of an expensive crisis affecting our children: scoliosis. He highlighted the cost and morbidity of our current surgical standard (posterior spinal fusion), and also some of the limitations with current bracing technology. Now the pediatric orthopedic surgeon in me was a bit critical about some of his claims and analogies, which I don’t believe were quite accurate. However, as an audience member viewing this pitch he totally nailed it. His solution seemed to provide a dynamic, technologically advanced brace that would be much less stigmatizing for a child to wear and could potentially change the current bracing paradigm. There was a hushed silence in the room by the end of his pitch.
The audience was then immediately instructed to vote to select the winner which was… Green Sun Medical! It is always exciting to see pediatric technology get a win since it is often overlooked, so bravo to the winning team. But also congratulations to all of the medtech innovator semi-finalists and finalists. I had the great opportunity to interact with all of the teams on livechats and in person, and I can tell you that ALL of these technologies/companies are worth keeping your eye on. It is also important to note that it is programs like Medtech Innovator that are keeping the innovative spirit alive in the medical technology community when it is seeming ever more daunting for an aspiring entrepreneur to enter the space. So, if you have a compelling medical problem and you think you just may have a solution, Medgadget may be seeing you at the next round of…. Medtech Innovator!
Green sun video: