Business incubators help medtech startups bring their ideas to life

Special to the Rochester Business Journal
By James Senall

James Senall


Healthcare is rapidly colliding with advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, optics and imaging, robotics and augmented and virtual reality and promising to transform the entire spectrum of care — from prevention and diagnosis to delivery and beyond.

In Rochester, medical technology (medtech) startups are leveraging these technologies in new and innovative ways: Intelon Optics is improving in vitro fertilization (IVF) outcomes, Health Care Originals is creating wearable devices to better manage asthma, and Prolivio is working to provide migraine headache relief for millions.

But innovative ideas for medical devices and technologies don’t become viable businesses without entrepreneurs having access to unique expertise, high-tech equipment and substantial capital. Starfish Medical, a large medical device design and development company, estimates that the amount of total company funding needed to develop a Class II 510(k) cleared medical device is approximately $30 million.

Technology incubators, such as NextCorps at Sibley Square, can help innovators access these needed resources and provide other valuable services. “It takes a corps of businesses, universities and investors to help entrepreneurs bring their life’s work into the world, and that’s especially true for healthcare startups,” said Matt Foley, managing director of NextCorps Incubation Services.

“While medtech innovators might be great at inventing a solution, they often need guidance on clinical trials and FDA approval processes,” added Sujatha Ramanujan, Ph.D., managing director of Luminate NY, an accelerator program administered by NextCorps. “Incubators can connect them with experts and provide tools to help them develop plans and systems to ensure regulatory compliance. They can also help entrepreneurs access clinical trials so that they can demonstrate the commercial potential and viability of their business, and secure funding from grants and venture capitalists (VCs).”

The International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) estimates that there are more than 1,400 business incubators in the United States, some focused exclusively on a specific area such as healthcare. There are several technology incubators in the Rochester area, including NextCorps and RIT Venture Creations.

KHIO, the hyper-cooling headband for migraine relief from Prolivio.
KHIO, the hyper-cooling headband for migraine relief from Prolivio.

Entrepreneurs in incubation programs work closely with seasoned mentors who have launched, grown, or sold companies. Together, they develop a roadmap with strategic milestones to develop products and create a viable business model to commercialize their product and scale their business.

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