Fall in New England. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
According to PWC’s recent quarterly MoneyTree report, no new medical device companies achieved Series A fundings in New England in either Q2 or Q3 2013. Zilch, zip, zero, nothin’, no, nada.
I’ve been tracking first-time venture financing of medical device companies in Nw England since 2005. You’ll find the link to my latest list of these companies at the bottom of this post. I wish I had a better update to offer.
What’s causing this New England drought?
A physician visiting the sick in a hospital, German engraving from 1682 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
About two years ago I noted “The Looming Impact of Healthcare Service Consolidation.” That consolidation ramped up this week, as the second-largest U.S. hospital chain, Community Health Systems, announced it would buy Health Management Associates (which operates 71 hospitals) in the largest hospital acquisition since 2006.
Consolidated systems standardize practices across hospitals and centralize purchasing of new technologies. Yesterday’s physician-champion-decision-maker is being replaced by tomorrow’s hospital-exec/technocrat-decision-maker. Medical device companies can learn a lot from enterprise IT sales. Will your medical device sales methodology adapt?
Like virtually all cataract surgery patients, my parents were thrilled with their cataract procedures. Why not? After a quick office procedure, their new intraocular lenses (IOLs) gave them better vision than they had experienced for more than a decade.
Now imagine a world with no devices for cataracts, only drugs. Imagine taking one or more medications every day for the rest of your life – drugs which could not cure cataracts, but which slow the inevitable progression towards blindness. Imagine the typical chronic-medication side effects: somewhere between minor discomfort and an increased risk of cardiovascular mortality. How does that sound?
When given a choice, I’ll take medical devices over drugs every time. Here’s why.
In case you aren’t paying attention, novel medical devices are changing the world. Some recent clinical trial headlines:
Ardian’s Renal Denervation System Demonstrates Sustained Blood Pressure Reduction at 30 Month Follow Up
Asthmatx Bronchial Thermoplasty Provides Long Term Asthma Control Out to 5 Year Follow Up
Percutaneous Valve Technologies’ and CoreValve’s Real World Registry Data Show That Transcatheter Valves Dramatically Improve New York Heart Association class III/IV symptoms and Angina
Barrx’s Endoscopic Ablation Therapy Eliminates Precancerous Esophageal Tissue and Significantly Reduces Disease Progression In Patients with Low Grade Dysplasia
EndoGastric Solutions’ Incisionless Endoscopic Procedure Significantly More Effective at Eliminating Chronic GERD Symptoms than Maximum PPI Dose, New Data Show
CV Ingenuity’s drug-eluting balloon demonstrates good 12 month efficacy in peripheral arterial disease.
Making a real and lasting impact – that’s what medical device startups are all about.
That’s why I do what I do.
The latest quarterly MoneyTree Report was just released, providing some insight into the state of medical device venture funding in the US. I downloaded and plotted the historical trend data for medical device VC investments in the U.S. from Q1 1995 to Q1 2013. Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
What do the trends tell us?
Posted in Medical Device Startup Equity, Medical Device Venture Capital
Tagged Business, Fundraising, Health care, Investment, Life science, Medical and Life Sciences, Medical device, startup, Startup company, Venture capital
My colleague Chris recently noted: “the right way to do things is often a pain in the butt.” No question that most engineers see protocols as a pain in the butt – yet another file to sherpa through the document approval process.
There’s an important logic behind the practice of doing protocols. Imagine doing an experiment on humans (aka a clinical study) without one. But “good product development practice” isn’t the only reason star medical device engineers write protocols. Believe it or not, star medical device engineers view protocol writing as a key element of team leadership and team effectiveness.
Let me explain. Continue reading
Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher FRS
If you haven’t learned to fear adhesive bonds, you haven’t lived a complete medical device life. Adhesives are truly marvels of transmutation: liquids stay liquid until they magically become solid, and a drop or two of base substance can hold dissimilar materials together with superhuman strength.
Yet control of adhesive processes is always a nightmare. UV fluence or position changes from lamp-to-lamp, and oven temperature varies seasonally. The environment is always too damp or too dry. Dispenser accuracy varies. Somehow the location of your adhesive on today’s device has shifted slightly from last year’s location. With adhesives, you just never know which variable is going to cross the line from in-control to out-of-control. You don’t need a masters in statistics to see that a large number of low-probability process failures adds up to a higher-than-desirable probability of bond failure.
I routinely bore people with my assertion that everyone should be required to study and master statistics in high school. We all need statistics to better understand the world we live in and the news we read. Without statistics literacy, we can easily be misled. In our personal lives, we make financial investments, buy insurance, and make decisions with risks. At work, engineers and scientists need statistics to understand designs, processes and experiments. Sales and marketing people need statistics to understand market attractiveness and sales probabilities. Supply chain and operations experts need statistics to understand forecasts, materials plans, and manufacturing processes. Even accountants and finance types need statistics to understand currency risks, stock options, and financial instruments.
Star medical device engineers master statistics to make better designs in less time. How? Continue reading
In the eight years of data I’ve collected on New England medical device company venture funding, I’ve never seen it this tough. Only four new companies were funded in 2012 (see my complete list below).
You might be tempted to blame VC belt-tightening or the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” You’d be wrong. While the macro environment has its challenges, four new NorCal medical device startups were funded in Q4 alone.
Ask most medical device marketers about market segmentation, and you’ll get an earful about physician specialty (and subspecialty), hospital/facility size or type (academic, ASC, for profit, large system, etc), or adopter type (early adopters, followers, and skeptics). Unfortunately, these approaches rarely help companies identify customer groups that are differentially addressable – i.e. best served by different products or services, different price points, and/or different marketing channels and sales techniques.
Contrast the typical medical device approach to the sophisticated techniques of consumer product firms. Are you a Barry, Jill, Buzz, Ray, or Mr. Storefront? Best Buy’s in-store staff segments you with a few questions before steering you to the products you’re most likely to want. Amazon suggests possible purchases for you, based on your clicks plus the buying history of other customers who bought the same products you did. Target buys your demographic data to combine with your Target purchase history to create custom coupons for you.
Medical device firms can do much, much more to understand and better serve their markets. Even back in the 1980′s much more could be done. Let me explain how I approached market segmentation twenty-something years ago.
Posted in Lean Medical Device Startup, market, Medical Device Reimbursement, product
Tagged Business, Customer Development, Early adopter, Health care, Life science, Medical and Life Sciences, Medical device, Medicare, startup, Startup company
Technically creative product designs stoke engineering pride. Most medical device engineers are happiest when flexing their technical muscle – developing elegant mechanisms, designing clever electrical circuits, and writing creative code. Technical muscle grows stronger with every new product developed.
Strong technical muscle alone doesn’t make a medical device engineer a star. A great attitude is necessary too, but still not sufficient. Star medical device engineers also develop several other muscles needed to bring great products to market. One critical strength is the ability to develop great engineering specifications and tests.