The Northwest’s new medical device angel investing network, called Wings, is showing more signs that it is starting to get off the ground.
Three local medical device startups have been picked by the Wings selection committee to give 10-minute talks at the angel network’s inaugural invitation-only meeting this Wednesday. The entrepreneurs made it through a vetting process that saw 28 initial applications, says Stephanie Barnes, the program manager for Wings. At the meeting, Russell Investments CEO Andrew Doman will give an overview on the investment climate to a group of at least 35 prospective medical device angel investors, Barnes says.
There’s no guarantee that any of them will secure investments. But the hope is that the event will make introductions between entrepreneurs and experienced investors, who could go on to obtain follow-on investments from other angels around town, says Wings president Stefan Kraemer. If all goes well—and Wings now has six sponsors providing some initial support—then it will plan to do its events on a quarterly basis, Barnes says.
The idea for the medical device angel network, which I first profiled back in February, comes at a tough time for the medical device industry. The industry has been squeezed by rising unemployment and the ensuing loss of health insurance that creates, which has put pressure on hospitals to apply more scrutiny of purchases of new equipment. Many entrepreneurs have complained bitterly about new legislation that raises taxes on medical device makers too.
But Wings hopes that by harnessing some of the creative juice of some of the region’s successful medical device entrepreneurs, they will be able to provide the money and mentorship that new startups can use to navigate the tough terrain. One common theme in the applications so far is that entrepreneurs are finding clever ways to demonstrate some proof of their concepts on shoestring budgets, Kraemer says.
“These companies won’t need $50 million or $100 million,” Kraemer says.
Here’s who will present to the Wings group on Wednesday, with a snippet on what they aim to do:
—Steven Dimmer, the CEO of Bellevue, WA-based Innovative Pulmonary Solutions, will talk about his vision of a new method for treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease without leaving any implant behind in the patients’ lung tissue. Dimmer is a former vice president of R&D at Seattle-based Calypso Medical Technologies.
—Kevin Connolly, a serial device entrepreneur who’s now CEO of Redmond, WA-based SRS Medical, will talk about his plan for a new device to diagnose urinary incontinence.
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