|MD&M trade show floor|
The Midwest is like an archipelago of innovation islands, each with its own business ecosystem. The Midwest I-Corps Node (MWIN) Industry Connect programs help build bridges between geographically distinct innovation communities within and outside the region. MWIN Industry Connect events leverage existing industry trade shows/conferences so that teams can introduce themselves, pitch their idea to technology decision makers, setup follow-on meetings, acquire feedback on their best path forward, and identify key milestones. This unique program also gives teams the opportunity to connect with like-minded innovators across the Midwest.
|Cohort participants & instructors at the |
UMN Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship
Recently, the University of Minnesota MIN-Corps site hosted the first MWIN MD&M Industry Connect three-day program for med-tech teams that are exploring commercialization. The cohort was composed of five med tech projects from Purdue University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Minnesota. The program was taught by Jonathan Fay, executive director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at U-M's School of Engineering, with support from Matthew Lynall, director of experiential learning and management consulting at Purdue's Krannert School of Management, and Carla Pavone, Program Director of MIN-Corps and Associate Director of the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship. The cohort’s projects included diagnostic and therapeutic devices targeting cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, and soft tissue calcification. In addition to attending Medical Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis 2017 , one of the largest med-tech conferences in the US, the participants were introduced to the Twin Cities’ vibrant medical technology ecosystem.
Day One began with an orientation at the UMN Earl E. BakkenMedical Devices Center, where participants learned how to succinctly share their business concepts, as well as how to develop contacts at a conference. Joe Hale, director of the Medical Devices Innovation Fellows program, also gave our guests a tour of the labs and workshops in the Medical Devices Center facility. They then spent the evening at the UMN Discovery Nexus, where they learned “What Investors and Licensees are Looking For” from a panel with broad and deep industry expertise. The panelists included Dan Mooradian, Director of the UMN Medical Device Innovation master’s degree program; Kevin Nickels, Technology Licensing Officer in the UMN Office for Technology Commercialization; and John Dinusson, founder and president of OrthoCor Medical.
|Bob Worrell with a cohort team|
Day Two was spent making connections during the day at the MD&M Conference, then making still more connections that evening at a speed mentoring session at Worrell, a top medical product industrial design firm. About 40 industry experts gathered in Worrell’s collaboration space to hear the participants’ informal pitches. They then circulated among the projects to share initial impressions, offer connections and give top-of-mind advice. The participants especially benefited from connecting to Bob Worrell, Founding Principal and President of Worrell Design; Chris Keuhn, co-founder and COO of AdrenaCard, Kevin Anderson, Technology Licensing Officer of the UMN Office for Technology Commercialization, and Greg Molnar, UMN Association Professor of Neurology. Brandon Bogdalek, Worrell's mixed reality expert, also offered live demos of virtual and augmented reality applications in their Black Box Lab.
Day Three began with the participants continuing to make connections, both at MD&M and UMN. They completed their immersion by debriefing at the UMN Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship. Each participant shared new market insights that would fundamentally affect their path toward product-market fit. The MD&M Industry Connect experience not only helped jump-start five early stage medical technologies, it also connected the Twin Cities more tightly to med tech innovators across the Midwest.