The MEDX incubator, led by the MEDX Ventures investment company, whose partners include global medical device company Boston Scientific, Sheba Medical Center (Tel Hashomer Hospital), and US investment company Intellectual Ventures, in which Bill Gates is an investor, has been officially launched, and is in the process of looking for projects. Gates's indirect investment in the incubator was first revealed in "Globes."
MEDX was one of the winners in the tender conducted by Israel's Ministry of the Economy and Industry Chief Scientist. Ze'ev Weinfeld, who held management positions in international medical devices companies and was CEO of Ramot, Tel Aviv University's technology transfer company, will be CEO of the incubator.
According to MEDX Ventures CEO Harel Gadot, the incubator is already in the advanced stages of examining 4-6 companies, and plans to submit 3-4 projects to the Israel Innovation Authority in the coming months. He said, "In the initial stage, the incubator is focusing on classical medical devices, with an emphasis on non-invasive devices. All the products we are considering are designed for very large markets or markets in which the innovation we are bringing will enable the market to grow."
At a later stage, projects in the area between medical devices and digital health will be considered. "Any product that can make the medical device smarter will be considered. Such a product could be a drain with a sensor providing information about whether there is a blockage. Such information helps avoid repeated use of radiation or repeat surgery for the purpose of discovering whether there is a problem. Such information can be of great value to both the doctor and the patient," Gadot explained.
According to Gadot, the incubator has already allocated a budget for financing companies beyond the supplementary financing required under the incubator's agreement with the Chief Scientist.
He added, "I find it slightly surprising that we are enjoying fruitful and positive cooperation with research institutions in Israel, without any exceptions. Everyone can see the added value that the incubator brings. In the past, I was more critical of these institutions' policy towards investors, but something has apparently changed in their attitude, specifically towards ventures in a technological incubator. It appears that the incubator model is encouraging everyone to join forces in positive cooperation."
Gadot notes that in addition to working with research institutes and hospitals, the incubator is also getting calls from independent ventures.
The incubator expects to invest in 40 ventures over eight years, but Gadot stresses, "We are not measuring ourselves by the parameter of how many incubator companies we found, but by how many of the companies we found are also sustainable outside the incubator. We are preparing to finance successful companies past the incubator stage. We'll build a plan for action and milestones with all entrepreneurs of any kind, whether male or female. The goal is to save successful projects in the program from having to worry about money."
Gadot says that the incubator was actually always a part of MEDX's vision. "We always focused on relatively young and risky companies requiring a high degree of managerial involvement. We always believed that partnership from an early stage with strategic parties is the right model for building medical equipment companies. MEDX is managed a little like an incubator in any case, with all its companies receiving financial, regulatory, intellectual property, and other services from a centralized team. Meanwhile, MEDX's companies have already matured somewhat, and in the incubator, we'll invest in younger and riskier companies, and even in ideas that are not yet companies. We'll even be able to support a doctor who comes with a precise definition of a problem for which he does not have a solution. We have assembled a multidisciplinary team of experts in medical equipment from all over the world, which meets from time to time, and can devise the solution.
"The opening of the incubators tender created this opportunity to institutionalize the model we believed in. The two international partners shared a desire to enhance their presence in Israel."
Gadot notes that the connection with Tel Hashomer came about because the respective capabilities of the partners were complementary. "Some of the hospital's capabilities are unique in Israel - their ability to obtain grants from the US, clinical capabilities, and also entrepreneurial capabilities. Thanks to the combination of partners, no entrepreneur entering the incubator will have to look outside for service unless he wants to; he can get everything under one roof."
"Globes": What has changed in the technological incubators model in the past five years, say, that has made it attractive enough to enable you to recruit entities like Boston Scientific, Intellectual Ventures, and other leading groups in other incubators?
Gadot: "The Chief Scientist is demanding more from the franchise holders - more financial capabilities, more commitment, and partners with various and complementary core capabilities. The Innovation Authority has done good work in challenging the bidders with the right capabilities for the purpose of establishing strong mature companies.
"One interesting step forward could be finding a way to facilitate cooperation between incubators - to show each other projects in which cooperation is possible, to help other incubators in areas we have already learned. There are ideas that are not viable by themselves, but when you join forces, an amazing integration is created. The question is how we can make this happen. I have already spoken with several incubators on this matter, and the attitude is very positive. It's not like what I've seen in the past."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on September 20, 2016
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