Supporting Promising Medtech Firms: Interview with Paul Grand, CEO of MedTech Innovator


MedTech Innovator is a medical technology accelerator program that supports medtech companies in translating their technologies into beneficial products. Much of this support takes the form of competitions. At present, MedTech Innovator holds competitions in the US and Asia, and companies can apply to enter either competition depending on where their primary market will be. The competitions occur at conferences where companies pitch their technologies over several rounds.

The competitions allow companies to receive feedback and insights from industry leaders and during the year 2020, MedTech Innovator and partners provided $500K in awards and prizes. Companies that reach the latter stages of the competitions also receive mentorship as part of the program and are showcased for potential investors and industry partners.

Medgadget recently featured interviews with some of the winners of the MedTech Innovator competition. We also had the opportunity to speak with Paul Grand, Founder and CEO of MedTech Innovator, about the competition.   

Conn Hastings, Medgadget: Please give us an overview of your background in medical technology.

Paul Grand, MedTech Innovator: Prior to MedTech Innovator, I spent 11 years in venture capital at Research Corporation Technologies, Inc. (RCT Ventures) in the roles of Director and Managing Director with a focus on Medtech. I have a bit of a unique lens, having evaluated over 10,000 companies in my time at MedTech Innovator and RCT Ventures. Prior to RCT Ventures, I was an entrepreneur, founding and / or serving as CEO in eight companies in life sciences and technology sectors.

Medgadget: What inspired you to establish MedTech Innovator?

Paul Grand: In 2013 at RCT Ventures, I observed that the number of Medtech entrepreneurs attending the larger industry conferences had dramatically shrunk. It’s critical that startups attend these events to facilitate networking with seasoned executives and investors who know how to bring medical products to market. I suggested to Casey McGlynn at Wilson Sonsini in January 2013 that we do a competition at his June annual device conference with startups pitching on the main stage and the audience voting for the winner. Casey agreed, and it was a great success. David Cassak invited me to do the same, and our MedTech Innovator competitions became fixtures at their annual conferences.

All too often, we passed on promising innovations because of fundamental execution mistakes where often the result of bad advice from inexperienced mentors or investors. To solve this, we added a virtual Accelerator program in 2015 to provide education and expert mentors. In that same year, we partnered with the AdvaMed trade association to hold a showcase and Finals competition at their annual conference. AdvaMed had reached a similar conclusion that the Medtech innovation pipeline was in jeopardy because of the void in venture capital, and the Medtech industry needed to get involved in the solution. We decided to establish MedTech Innovator as a standalone 501(c)3 nonprofit, and I left to run it as CEO with the support of RCT Ventures and Johnson & Johnson as founding sponsors.

Medgadget: Please give us an overview of the activities and goals of MedTech Innovator.

Paul Grand: MedTech Innovator is purpose built to ensure that viable medical innovations successfully reach patients. We optimize the interface between innovators seeking capital and strategics, venture and angel investors seeking promising technology opportunities. Companies apply to either our US or Asia Pacific programs, depending on which region will be their primary market, and our partners select the top 200 to pitch in our road tour. After selecting final cohorts, our corporate and service provider partners and our value coaches mentor startups and offer resources to meet the needs of each company that we accelerate. The program is product focused – we want to ensure they offer the maximum value to customers. Our companies gain access to a peer network of the highest performing companies in Medtech via our alumni and complimentary AdvaMed membership. They are exclusively showcased to industry and investors at Medtech’s largest conferences. We bring the world’s best ecosystem to the world’s leading life science innovators, wherever they are based.

Medgadget: Which companies have particularly excited you among those shortlisted this year?

Paul Grand: I’ll highlight some of the companies that made it to our finals – Rhaeos won our US program for their wearable that noninvasively monitors ventricular shunt function and should transform the lives of hydrocephalus patients and the people who care for them. X-Zell won our APAC program for their liquid biopsy system promising accurate, affordable, and globally scalable early cancer detection. Cellvie’s device-enabled mitochondria transplantation therapy can be a game changer to solve reperfusion injury in heart disease and kidney transplantation. Moray Medical can radically improve outcomes with their robotic catheter that makes delivery of therapies inside the beating heart as easy as moving a computer cursor. Vena Vitals can have a huge impact on hypertension with their non-invasive blood pressure monitor in the form of a soft flexible sticker that sits on your skin. In our APAC program, Cartosense will improve the lives of patients in the developing world with their portable, affordable, and highly flexible surgical navigation system for neurosurgery. Remidio will improve vision with their smartphone-based portable retinal imaging device. Sporogenics should have a major impact on post-surgical outcomes with their biodegradable anti-adhesion implantable.  

Medgadget: How do you anticipate that the COVID-19 pandemic will affect the Medtech landscape, and which medical technologies do you see emerging as the most important within the next ten years?

Paul Grand: COVID-19 has raised awareness of the importance of the Medtech sector, and I believe we’ll see a significant uptick in investor interest as a result. The pandemic has introduced systemic changes in how healthcare technology is developed and delivered, from executing clinical studies to the diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of patients. I believe the genie is out of the bottle, and these changes are permanent.

Several of our top companies this year exemplify how Medtech has changed in a post-COVID world. Circadia Health is experiencing rapid growth at nursing facilities with their contactless remote monitoring system for early detection of respiratory failure. Healthy Networks is developing an affordable smart stethoscope that can detect lung diseases like pneumonia early to save lives. Lief Therapeutics is poised to impact mental health with their wearable device that is both a diagnostic and digital therapeutic.

In the future, the most important technologies will offer significant and transformative improvements in value in one or more areas – clinical impact, non-clinical patient impact, care delivery and cost impact, and public / population impact, including reduction in health disparities.

Medgadget: Which companies are eligible to apply for the 2021 program?

Paul Grand: Pre-seed – Series C medical device, diagnostic, or digital health startups and scaleups are eligible and encouraged to apply. Acceptance into the MedTech Innovator Accelerator is based on the stage of the startup, with preference for companies that have not yet raised a Series B or established a significant strategic partnership. Later stage companies are eligible for the Showcase track of the program which is identical to the Accelerator but without the assignment of corporate mentors. There are no fees or equity for participation.

Applications for MedTech Innovator 2021 are now open, and early applications get priority reviews. To learn more, visit Deadline to apply is January 15, 2021.

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