Waterloo region opens hub for medtech start-ups
June 26, 2019
KITCHENER, Ont. – Intellijoint Surgical, a Waterloo Region-based medical device company that produces smart navigation technology for total joint replacements, is leading the creation of Canada’s first industry-led hub dedicated to supporting medtech start-ups.
Called MIX, short for the Medical Innovation Exchange, the centre aims to help companies achieve global scale while keeping their headquarters in Waterloo Region.
Intellijoint Surgical is the anchor tenant and will be joined by Penta Medical, Vena Medical, and Bloom Care Solutions; together, they currently employ nearly 100 people.
An integrated, community workspace for local healthcare professionals and smaller medtech companies will also be created. At full capacity, the hub will house 200 people.
The number of new Canadian medtech companies starting up in Waterloo Region has grown dramatically in the last 10 years thanks to significant public investment in early stage research and development.
As these companies grow past the start-up phase, they face significant challenges in scaling up successfully within Canada. These challenges are well documented and are headlined by a lack of access to talent, customers and capital. This leads to many start-ups leaving Canada to seek access to the resources they so desperately need.
“Our goal is to create a thriving local medtech ecosystem that supports local companies in achieving scale without having to relocate to Boston, Houston, or any other city outside of the region,” said Armen Bakirtzian (pictured), Intellijoint Surgical CEO & cofounder.
“Launching MIX is the first step to creating an ecosystem that enables the region to retain and develop talent, create local customers, and attract capital. If we don’t fill this gap, we risk the loss of our local medtech companies to the established ecosystems in the U.S. It’s time we create our own ecosystem, retain and develop our highly skilled start-ups, and commercialize Canadian medtech innovations in Canada!”
MIX will connect and unite the medtech community within Waterloo Region, creating a natural collision space for members to share know-how, leverage experience, and ultimately, achieve scale.
Members will have direct access to intelligent mentorship and local health care professionals and administrators all housed in this state-of-the-art facility. Access to such resources will help to combat the exodus of Canadian innovation, intellectual property (IP), biomedical engineering talent, and economic value created by maturing medtech companies. The hub will complement the current start-up programming landscape of Waterloo Region and is intended to bridge the gap as startups scale.
“The evolution of the local health and medical technology ecosystem is demonstrating the strength of collaboration between the innovation community and clinicians,” commented Elliot Fung, executive lead, innovation and strategic partnerships, Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network.
“These collaborations have produced new, exciting disruptive health technologies that are improving patient outcomes, wellness and making it easier for clinicians to do what they do best. Co-locating so many innovative scale-ups will allow for health innovators to learn from each other, share successes and mentor each other so that they can maximize opportunities for improvements to patient care. We are very excited to support this next step in establishing Waterloo Region and the province of Ontario as a world class centre for health innovation.”
“As medtech companies in the Region mature and phase out of start-up incubators, they are left without the resources they need to continue to develop their product and enter commercialization,” said Alexa Roeper, CEO and founder, Penta Medical. “The collaborative hub of MIX fills this gap through access to affordable lab space, industry-specific knowledge sharing, and one-to-one mentorship centred on the unique challenges that medtech companies face when scaling. MIX has created the option for many local medtech entrepreneurs to remain in the region and scale successfully.”
A grand opening of MIX will be held in the early fall. The group plans to invite government officials, members of the medtech community and media to tour the facility. To see photos and learn more about Canada’s first industry-led hub for medtech scale-ups, visit www.medicalinnovationxchange.com.
About Intellijoint Surgical
Intellijoint Surgical® develops and commercializes surgical navigation solutions. It is committed to improving patients’ lives by providing every surgeon with effective, easyto-use technology. Intellijoint’s flagship product, Intellijoint HIP®, provides surgeons with real-time, intraoperative measurements to ensure accurate positioning of orthopaedic implants during total hip replacements.
About Bloom Care Solutions
Bloom was created as an easy to use and innovative reinvention of home health care, ensuring access to quality Health Care Professionals (Care Pros), improving accountability and efficiencies, facilitating automated scheduling, while enabling technologies to ensure real-time communication with both family and care team.
About Penta Medical
Penta Medical has developed PentaVO, a small device which allows patients to treat themselves at home for conditions including arthritis, postoperative recovery, and muscle and tendon tears. It collects biometrics to allow the user to be remotely monitored by their care provider for signs of complications, to improve outcomes through better patient adherence.
About Vena Medical
Vena Medical is creating a suite of tools to change the way physicians perform minimally invasive neurosurgery. Its flagship product is the world’s smallest camera that gives physicians a live imaging-feed from inside veins and arteries within the brain. We’ve proven the usefulness of this new product in stroke treatment (a $1B market opportunity in the US alone) through a pre-clinical trial performed at the Baylor College of Medicine. Vena Medical has built an advisory team of leading physicians in minimally invasive treatment like Dr. Peter Kan, chief of neuroendovascular service at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, and veterans of the medical technologies industry like Maria Aboytes, founder of Medina Medical.