Our motto at Fogarty Innovation is “Innovation is best learned by doing.” It’s something you see at the organization every day, and that includes our incubation and acceleration programs, which are tailored to match the development stages of the entrepreneurs who join us as they strive to create promising new medical technologies.
From helping clinicians, researchers and faculty further develop their ideas through our Invention Accelerator Program (IAP), to providing guidance to young companies aiming to hit their next milestone with the Company Accelerator Program (CAP), to our long-standing immersive Company-in-Residence (CIR) program, each offers a unique opportunity to access our internal, cross-functional team of seasoned mentors, unparalleled educational programs, top-tier external resources and world-class facility.
“Our incubation and acceleration programs provide a longitudinal continuum of opportunities to help entrepreneurs and young companies to advance their concepts to potentially come to fruition,” says Mike Regan, Fogarty Innovation’s chief innovation officer. “It’s a unique and comprehensive model in the medtech ecosystem that supports innovation to bring benefits to patients.”
Throughout the pandemic, companies continued to make great progress, facilitated by support offered through virtual touchpoints. This success demonstrated how the Fogarty model can effectively work with startups located elsewhere—companies it previously wouldn’t have been able to mentor and support—while continuing to serve onsite companies through its high-touch approach.
Let’s meet the new entrepreneurs in the IAP program and two new Companies-in-Residence that have recently joined Fogarty.
IAP helps companies make first key steps
Fogarty has now worked with five physicians, researchers and entrepreneurs on four different ideas in its IAP. Dr. Vincent Gaudiani and Dr. Chad Rammohan from El Camino Hospital were the initial participants, and the pool has since expanded to include other hospitals and organizations, including Stanford.
“We are providing them with mentoring and detailed feedback to help them evolve from seeing an unmet need to developing a related technology and understanding the market,” said John Morriss, director of the Invention Accelerator program. “We also focus efforts on expanding their network, such as patent attorneys or grant writing experts.”
One such project is spearheaded by Eric Appel, an assistant professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University, who is addressing a novel compound to prevent unwanted tissue adhesion during the healing process. His project, nicknamed “Applesauce,” has shown promising results in preclinical studies in two different applications. “We worked with Eric to help identify opportunities for adhesive prevention in multiple clinical areas, which he is now exploring,” says John.
New to the program is Auricle, which stems from the Stanford Biodesign Summer Extension program. Francis Wong, MD, and Jay Dhuldhoya are developing a minimally invasive extracochlear neurostimulation device that, unlike cochlear implants, doesn’t pose risk to residual hearing and is reversible. The device is designed to restore hearing and improve speech perception in adults with severe high-frequency hearing loss. Through the program, they are receiving guidance and mentoring in a number of areas, including market strategy and patent claims advice.
Also new to the program are Dr Paul Wang, an electrophysiologist at Stanford, and CEO Meg Babakhanian, with their company EpiEndoAF. They are developing a novel system using transmural ablation to address atrial fibrillation. Fogarty is helping them assess market demand, refine their project plan, develop their procedure in a bench model of representative anatomy, and assess and protect their intellectual property.
Fogarty’s signature Companies-in-Residence program welcomes two startups
The hallmark of Fogarty, the Companies-in-Residence, are hosted at Fogarty Innovation to accelerate the development of new therapies. The long-standing program has seen much success as graduates such as nVision, HeartFlow, PQ Bypass, Alydia Health and CyberHeart have recently been acquired or announced plans to go public.
Recently Fogarty welcomed two new companies to its campus: Boomerang Medical and Ryme Medical.
Spearheaded by seasoned medtech executive Heather Simonsen, who, as president of Fogarty graduate PQ Bypass, successfully led the company to its recent acquisition by Endologix; Boomerang has already received its first funding as an Arboretum Ventures portfolio company.
The startup is addressing autoimmune diseases and chronic inflammation, conditions that impact up to 27 million people according to the National Institutes of Health. A deeper understanding of the full connection of the various body systems and the neurosystem has been a puzzle, but much progress has been made in the past 10 years. To date, these conditions have been treated through diet and prescription drugs, but headway has been made in better understanding how to harness some of the body’s power to generate its own medicine. That’s where bioelectronic medicine comes in, which is the interplay between engineering and medicine. The company is aiming to give patients an effective tool to address these conditions.
“It’s a real privilege to be surrounded by this world-class professional team, our partners and like-minded entrepreneurs. It underscores what I value the most, which is bringing the best minds together and benefiting from a broad diversity of opinion for the benefit of patients,” said Heather. “It’s also a thrill to once again be leading an innovative startup where I can leverage my deep expertise in building and running a business that’s developing a disruptive technology.”
Ryme, led by Paul Andreotti, is addressing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by targeting the sympathetic nervous system and taking away its impact on COPD patients. It has already received its first funding from Santé Ventures.
Paul has worked in the industry for over 30 years at a variety of noteworthy companies. For much of his career, he was vice president of product development for Coronary and Renal Denervation at Medtronic where he was heavily involved in acquisitions, including Ardian and Twelve, where he met Andrew Cleeland. He stepped out of this role after the acquisition of Twelve to help oversee its success as vice president of TMVR (Intrepid Transcatheter Mitral Valve Replacement System), when Andrew left to lead Fogarty Innovation. This experience introduced him to the rewarding aspects of working with early-stage companies, which eventually led him to Ryme.
As the third-leading cause of death worldwide, COPD is a collection of three diseases: chronic bronchitis, asthma and emphysema. Ryme will be focused on alleviating the suffering of patients who struggle to breathe. Flare ups, called exacerbations, are acute events that make patients feel like they’re suffocating, leading to panic and often a trip to the hospital. These flare-ups have a detrimental impact on the breathing status of the patient and severe flare-ups result in an increased three-year mortality of 25%. The condition impacts more than 375 million people worldwide at an annual cost of approximately $50 billion and is a huge burden to healthcare systems around the world.
While the current treatment is a prescription regimen taken via inhaler, even taking a dose is something patients dread, making it an ineffective treatment with low adherence.
“It’s been an exciting environment, from the engineers and fellow entrepreneurs to the executive staff,” said Paul. “We just hired our first engineer and know that working at Fogarty will accelerate our development in new and exciting ways.”