With a goal of helping bring together investors and collaborators in the global medtech industry and shine a light on continuing education, the Fogarty Institute once again participated in the prestigious MedTech Strategist Innovation Summit San Francisco 2019 on November 18 and 19; this year assuming a larger role as a co-sponsor and co-organizer. As in the past, the impressive list of participants included hundreds of venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, investment bankers and senior business development executives from large medical device companies from around the world – all looking forward to the chance to learn, network and collaborate.
Building on its past success, MedTech Strategist this year joined forces with four of the leading players in the industry – Lightstone Ventures, New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (WSGR), along with the Fogarty Institute, to create a new kind of conference. This year’s Innovation Summit offered a broader and deeper take on the issues and concerns driving the industry today, from new innovation models to novel financing opportunities to regulatory and reimbursement dynamics.
“This is essentially an investor conference and, as raising capital remains challenging, understanding the process of innovation and gleaning a ‘best practices’ approach becomes essential,” said David Cassak, managing partner of Innovation in MedTech, LLC, the publisher of MedTech Strategist. “Attendees gained candid take-aways that they can use when they go out to raise capital, starting with a discussion of the Stanford Biodesign approach to innovation and then following with sessions featuring Biodesign alums, talking about their real-world experience; seasoned serial entrepreneurs offering lessons learned; and leading VCs talking about mistakes companies make in their pitches, to name just a few of the sessions.”
The event was kicked off by a series of keynotes, including one by Dr. Paul Yock, founder and director of Stanford Biodesign, who gave an insightful presentation on the current state of medtech, its program and some thoughts on the future.
“As we look back on the first two decades of the Biodesign program, we realize that while we have done a good job of helping innovators invent solutions to important problems in care, we have not been as useful in guiding them through the difficult early stages of implementation,” said Paul. “We are in the process of developing a more dedicated approach to this phase – what you could call ‘full-contact mentoring’ — drawing on real-world experts to work closely with our trainees to help transition their great ideas into actual patient care.”
Some of the leading voices in today’s medtech world hosted additional keynote presentations and plenary sessions that provided attendees with both insight and opportunity. Among the fascinating topics discussed by a “who’s who” in the industry were what innovation-based startups need to know about the current hospital environment; how to generate claims data to support the pathway to reimbursement using clinical trials; and digital transformation in clinical trials.
Another popular session presented by Mike Carusi, general partner of Lightstone Ventures, and Steven Hochberg, partner at Deerfield Management, and moderated by Casey McGlynn, partner at WSGR and FII board member, was on mistakes VCs see when companies pitch them.
First, the team described each of their firms to give an overview of how diverse the landscape is. They shared their unique and creative approaches to get new technologies to market, as well as their funding strategies, in terms of stages and how many investments they do in medtech each year. The conversation then turned to the importance of a good CEO, which is the “make it or break it” piece to ensuring a return on investment.
They shared characteristics they most admire in CEOs who pitch them, which are more likely to lead to funding. It’s critical to have a strong CEO who can translate the innovative idea for a technology, and be able to demonstrate their ability to navigate the company from ideation to inception, growing the company and overcoming the inevitable bumps in the road. It’s also valuable to be conscious of the team’s or technology’s weak spots, with a CEO who can leverage team members’ expertise in areas unfamiliar to them. Finally, they must be able to share a clear message that can be delivered to the potential investors.
The first day also included a lively and informative discussion on “Serial Entrepreneurs: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Behind Building Successful Companies,” moderated by FII CEO Andrew Cleeland and featuring Mark Deem, managing partner at The Foundry; Amr Salahieh, founder and CEO of Shifamed; and Angela Macfarlane, managing director of ForSight Labs and FII board member.
During this discussion, the group – with a combined 80+ years of experience in successfully starting and launching companies and subsequently mentoring the next generation of entrepreneurs – shared a wealth of information. Attendees heard how and why they started as entrepreneurs and stayed involved, how they identified opportunities and overcame challenges, the importance of failing and learning from one’s mistakes, the value of a company culture and much more.
They agreed that success comes from hard work, passion and instincts – combined with a little bit of luck – and naiveté. “If you know too much…or overthink it…you might never take those first steps to launch a startup,” said Amr.
“As an entrepreneur, you really have the ability to make an impact as you create things. It’s so compelling that you find yourself doing it again and again,” said Angela Macfarlane.
And, as the panelists noted, the sense of urgency to develop and bring a device to market is real. After all, patients are waiting.
Details regarding Innovation Summit San Francisco 2020 will be announced soon at MedTechStrategist.com.