From the CEO: Reflections on 2023

by | Dec 22, 2023 | Fogarty Innovation, Thought Leadership

“’Asking for help isn’t giving up,’ said the horse. ‘It’s refusing to give up.’”

– from The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, by Charlie Mackesy

The holidays have arrived with their distinctive cadence – parties and gift giving, travel plans and kids home from school, and a gradual lightening of business engagements as the pace of work slows in preparation for downtime with family and friends. The change in tempo also prompts reflection about the year gone by. As I think about 2023, which took its place right up there with 2020, 2021, and 2022 as one of the most challenging years I can recall, I am incredibly proud of all Fogarty Innovation and its family of companies accomplished.

Despite the persistent, early-stage investment winter, our resilient crop of startups continued to make progress towards their goal of improving human health. The leaders of these companies worked incredibly hard and in many cases, made tough decisions to keep their company and mission alive.

Getting through challenging circumstances like these requires more than grit, creativity, and determination. It also requires the willingness to ask for help. Medtech innovation has never been a solo endeavor; as my good friend Paul Yock once said, “No one individual can cover that waterfront.”

Fogarty Innovation takes the team approach even further, supporting our entrepreneurs and company leaders with a signature incubation approach we call “full contact coaching.” This core practice, which we describe more fully in the December issue of our newsletter, reflects our commitment to leveraging the experience of our senior team to help innovators successfully deliver their solutions to patients. We provide hands-on, in-the-trenches support throughout their innovation journey, offering guidance, insight, board-level expertise across functional areas, access to an exceptional network of industry experts, and an external perspective that helps leaders stay focused on the end goal.

Our staff, CEO and alumni community, and extended network also provide emotional and moral support; the kind of help that is often more critical than strategic or tactical advice and much harder to request. In a society that celebrates capability and strength, many of us have an innate reluctance to ask for help. (Having grown up male in Australia, this mindset doesn’t apply to me at all.) But if what we do every day is hard, it is even harder in a challenging economic climate and in the face of wrenching global events. We all need a village.

On that note, I’m also proud to say that we’ve grown our community and network substantially this year. We launched new programs with our existing alliance partners and formed new ones. We’ve also expanded our innovation community, drawing new members into our circle with robust educational programming that included 26 Lunch & Learns and half-day workshops in 2023.  We recently sent out a survey to get feedback on the content we provided and gather suggestions for new topics and speakers – if you have ideas to share please email them to fogarty-education@fogartyinnovation.org.

One of those educational events, a workshop on intellectual property that featured real-world case studies from eight industry leaders, is recapped in this issue of our newsletter. Also in this issue, we also share the success story that is PQ Bypass, a company that incubated at FI, was acquired by Endologix, and recently debuted its innovative device, the Endologix Detour System, in patients suffering from complex peripheral arterial disease at El Camino Health. You can also get to know our newest Company Accelerator Program participant, Selera, which is taking an innovative approach to heart failure.

On a more personal note, I want to add that asking for help is a best practice beyond the workplace too. Each year I accumulate on the planet makes it clear that I have more to learn, and that talking problems through with a trusted friend helps even when the conversation results in nothing more concrete than a shared laugh and another beer. While the holidays are a time for relaxation and joy, they can also be time of introspection and sadness. If you, or anyone you know is feeling blue, please encourage them, as the horse in the children’s book above advises, to refuse to give up by asking for help.

I wish you and yours a peaceful and joyful holiday season. And if you’re reading to your kids, give The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse a try.

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