There’s a lot of reasons you should consider visiting New Hampshire. The 9th state in the Union is picturesque and quintessential New England in its natural beauty and architecture. Lakes, mountains, and a tiny 18-mile coastline dot the state, making it a recreation lover’s paradise. And if retail therapy is more your thing, New Hampshire has no sales tax!
But also if you’re looking to set up your next medical technology gig, there’s a lot of reasons you should consider staying in New Hampshire. From a financial standpoint, there’s no personal income tax, and business taxes are low. From its largest metropolitan area in Manchester, it’s an easy drive to Boston, New York City, and Montreal to the north. And there’s plenty of talent to pull from, not only from Boston area colleges, but from the Ivy League Dartmouth College located in the state, as well as numerous state and community colleges.
We were invited by the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development to spend a couple days touring the Granite State to visit a number of companies of all sizes to learn more about why they decided to make home in New Hampshire.
Our tour started at Sunrise Labs, a contract product development firm whose portfolio includes a transdermal drug delivery device, wireless EEG headset, and a point-of-care blood analyzer. Like many contract companies we’ve spoken with, Sunrise didn’t originally start in medical products, but adjusted their focus as the tech landscape changed and more of their clients began asking for help with their medical devices. But there’s certainly no shortage of medtech expertise; Sunrise’s president, Eric Soederberg had previously been the product lead at DEKA Research and Development, where he lead development of the iBot Mobility System (we also learned that Dean Kamen is also a local resident). Aside from the company’s extensive experience and services, it just seemed like a cool place to work. Company culture and exciting and dynamic work were constantly emphasized, giving the company a bit of a Silicon Valley feel, except with a far more beautiful view of the New Hampshire forests from the corner office window.
Resonetics is an example of a company born in New Hampshire that has grown into an international business. Specializing in laser micro-manufacturing for everything from catheters to diagnostic devices, the company not only provides contract machining services, but consults with life science companies to design and implement their own in-house laser machining systems. It was fascinating to observe the process of machining a device capable of filtering cells!
Our final stop on our tour was historic Dartmouth College’s Thayer School of Engineering. At all academic levels, collaboration and entrepreneurship are heavily emphasized. Engineering specialty departments are non-existent, and undergraduates first pursue an AB (Bachelor of Arts) degree, emphasizing the development of “renaissance” scholars of sorts and encouraging collaboration and learning across all engineering disciplines as well as the liberal arts. The school has a “PhD Innovation Program” to help students develop their own start-ups and includes an internship component that invites them to intern at a start-up, join an incubator, or start their own company. Students, faculty, and staff can receive assistance on a business venture through the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network (DEN), a donor-supported program that provides education and mentorship, networking and funding, and workspace for ventures. DEN-backed startups are also generously granted full intellectual property rights to their ideas in exchange for a 4-percent founders’ equity in the company, eliminating the complexities of things like milestone payments that can discourage joint ventures.
Examples of Dartmouth’s partnerships were seen with a visit to the Dartmouth Regional Technology Center (DRTC), a non-profit incubator, independent of the college, but whose companies consist largely of Dartmouth graduates and faculty. It currently houses 19 companies of various industries of all sizes in its 60,500 square foot facility. Its largest company, Avitide, takes up an entire floor, and provides purification services for biologics. It was one of several companies in the area founded by Dartmouth bioengineering professor, scientist, and entrepreneur Tillman Gerngross, who is regarded by many to be the Elon Musk of biotechnology. Some of the smallest companies in the DRTC occupy just a small office and lab, such as PreventAGE Healthcare, a venture founded by Dartmouth endocrinologist Paul Beisswenger to detect the predisposition for diabetes from a blood test. One of our group’s favorites was Mobile Virtual Player, a startup that has developed remote-controlled tackling dummies for football practices. These motorized dummies, which can simulate the speed and agility of players, reduce the need for tackling other players during practice, and subsequently reduce the risk of concussions and other sports injuries. So far, MVP’s dummies have been purchased by 18 NFL and college football teams and even made an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in 2015.
As we headed toward Manchester Airport at the conclusion of our tour, we passed by a number of large red brick buildings along the Merrimack River (shown in the image at the top of the article). We were told that the buildings previously housed the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company that basically founded the city of Manchester. Once the largest cotton textile manufacturer in the world during the Industrial Revolution, the company fell on hard times as a result of the Great Depression and closed its doors in 1935. In the 1980’s Dean Kamen began purchasing and rehabilitating several of the buildings, eventually moving DEKA headquarters into them. From there, a new tech industrial revival occurred in the city, and today, the buildings, now collectively called the Manchester Millyard, are home to offices of Texas Instruments and Autodesk. On the medtech side, the millyard is home to PillPack, a mail-order pharmacy, the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI), an institute focused on creating an industry for the biofabrication of human tissue and organs, and of course, DEKA. With a prime location, partnerships from nearby colleges and universities, and an economy that is friendly toward businesses, it’s no surprise that New Hampshire is experiencing a tech revival of sorts, and we’re confident that the medical technology industry will follow close behind.
The New Hampshire countryside isn’t too shabby to look at either.
We’d like to thank the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development for hosting us!