Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of the medtech industry, and Fogarty supports them through a number of initiatives, including its Company Accelerator Program (CAP). This program for early-stage companies uses a comprehensive, cross-functional approach to help them advance by clearly focusing on the opportunity and taking steps to overcome potential barriers. Recently, Fogarty welcomed two new promising companies to the six-month program.
Expa Medical promises to eliminate a surgery for breast cancer patients seeking reconstruction surgery
With breast cancer rates on the rise, mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgeries are becoming more prevalent. In fact, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS)/Plastic Surgery Foundation, more than 137,000 women in the U.S. underwent breast reconstruction in 2020, an increase of 75% since 2000. However, the current two-stage procedure can be a hardship for patients. Additionally, many women are not eligible for reconstruction. To provide a more streamlined and patient-friendly experience, Expa Medical is pioneering a new type of implant that promises to eliminate one of the two reconstruction surgeries needed, while providing higher degrees of implant customization and modification.
Cofounders Benjamin Weiss and Matthew Goldschmidt met as students at Northwestern University and at the height of the pandemic, Ben spent time talking with his father, a radiation oncologist, who described complications he had seen in a breast cancer patient. That sparked Ben’s interest and he and Matt developed an idea for a novel breast implant that has now become the basis for Expa.
They presented their idea to an investor, who contacted experienced medtech executive Edward (Eddy) Kleinhans to learn more about the medical device market. Intrigued, Eddy reached out to Ben who impressed him with his idea – not to mention his drive and acumen. “He is a brilliant young mind who is passing up the opportunity to go to medical school to take this invention forward,” says Eddy, who became an advisor and subsequently CEO.
Familiar with the benefits of Fogarty Innovation’s CAP, Eddy helped the company apply to the coveted program, which will help accelerate Ben’s education in the medical device space and provide the lab space needed to develop the technology. Currently the company is working on the initial elements of an early-stage startup: raising money, building a prototype, perfecting IP and creating a regulatory and clinical plan for the product.
“Throughout my career, I’ve been drawn to developing solutions in life sciences that are simple to explain and grasp, yet have a tremendous impact on the healthcare system,” says Eddy. “Almost everyone is touched in some way by breast cancer, whether it’s a friend or family member. To be able to offer something so potentially impactful to the healthcare system, and ultimately these patients, is why I joined Expa.”
Auricle amplifies its journey to reshape the hearing industry
Previously part of Fogarty’s Invention Accelerator Program (IAP), Auricle is continuing its work on a minimally invasive extracochlear neurostimulation device designed to restore hearing in the millions of patients who no longer benefit from hearing aids or other existing solutions. Unlike cochlear implants, the startup’s technology is minimally invasive and doesn’t pose a risk to residual hearing.
Auricle was co-founded by Francis Wong, MD, and Jay Dhuldhoya, who met during the 2019-20 Innovation Fellowship at Stanford Biodesign. After graduation, they were invited to participate in the Stanford Biodesign Summer Extension program, which involves mentoring from the Fogarty Innovation team, and they have continued to make great strides since then.
The startup’s most recent achievements include conducting two clinical studies with promising results, receiving grant funding, refining their prototype, testing approaches for both short-term and chronic uses and initiating interaction with the FDA. Along the way they have also expanded their team in addition to continuing to work closely with clinical advisor Dr. Peter Santa Maria and mentors from Fogarty.“Thanks to the support we’ve received in the past, the team has a well-defined mission,” said Francis. “Becoming part of CAP was a logical next step as we work to expedite our progress, including fundraising, to bring the device to market for the people who need it.” He continued, “We are deeply grateful for all the guidance we’ve received from Fogarty thus far and appreciate their continuing commitment to our company and technology.”