Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Home / Special Report / Startups stay committed to developing new technologies

Startups stay committed to developing new technologies

Rochester-area health care startups are eager to bring new medical technologies and devices to market. The young companies, however, face an uphill climb.

“The climate overall for medical device startups—the one word I would use is ‘challenging,’” says Michael Riedlinger, manager of the Rochester BioVenture Center at High Tech Rochester, a technology firm incubator.

The hurdles are many—and high. After creating a new medical device, startups have to obtain the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval for its use with patients. They may also have to meet insurers’ guidelines to demonstrate the device’s value as a means of maintaining or improving health, as well as convince them to reimburse patients for its purchase.

Finally, they have to market their product to the medical community and patients. As a result, the process of developing and marketing a new medical device is often both lengthy and expensive.

“To successfully bring it to market requires millions of dollars and many years of sustained effort,” Riedlinger says.

Despite such hurdles, some local startups are developing, testing and even manufacturing new medical devices.

Ovitz Corp. CEO and founder Felix Kim came up with an idea for the EyeProfiler in 2013 while doing undergraduate research toward his optics degree at the University of Rochester’s Flaum Eye Institute. The portable, battery-operated device allows an optometrist to measure a patient’s vision when it is held before the person’s eyes.

“(It) can give you a prescription for your eyeglasses,” explains Kim, who graduated this year with a degree in optics. “Just one click, and that’s it.”

EyeProfiler is about half the size of a phone book and has a pistol grip. Because it does not need the bulky, expensive equipment and boxes of lenses now found in optometrists’ offices, the device could be used to bring better eye care to those in rural areas and Third World countries.

“Many people (are) going effectively blind, just because of their uncorrected vision errors,” Kim says.

Ovitz, which opened its doors at the Lennox Tech Enterprise Center in West Henrietta in 2013, has tested the prototype EyeProfiler with a small group of subjects. Kim says the device is provisionally patented, and his firm is preparing to conduct more extensive tests.

Pittsford startup PharmAdva LLC also has a new device in the works, called Dosemgr. If all goes as planned, older adults will have a new means of keeping track of their medications within a few years.

“It stores and sorts pills and prepares doses,” says Jonathan Sacks, CEO, chairman and co-founder of PharmAdva. “Those doses are dispensed automatically to patients.”

Dosemgr—short for dose manager—is geared toward patients over the age of 65 who need to take multiple medications, but have trouble remembering to take them, Sacks says.

Shaped like a 10-inch cube, the device can be loaded with 90-day supplies of up to 16 medications, each of which is kept in its own bin. Dosemgr can read the bar codes from pill bottles and open the appropriate bins for loading.

Once Dosemgr is loaded, the patient or a caregiver can use its touchscreen to program it to dispense the drugs as scheduled. At the appropriate time, the device issues a pre-recorded verbal message reminding the patient to take the medication and dispenses it.

When a patient does not take drugs as scheduled, the Dosemgr notifies the patient, caregiver or both via text message, phone call or email, depending upon its programming. The machine also can be set to notify medical professionals caring for the patient of the missed medication.

Michel Berg M.D., associate professor at the University of Rochester and PharmAdva’s co-founder and chief medical officer, developed the technology used in the Dosemgr, Sacks says. The startup has licensed the technology from UR.

PharmAdva began testing prototype Dosemgrs in March 2013, Sacks says, and has already obtained FDA approval for the device. It plans to produce the first 50 units by December.

Thirty are on order to private individuals, and the remainder will be tested with University of Rochester Medical Center patients who have difficulty taking their medications as scheduled. The pilot program is intended to show health insurance companies the value of reimbursing patients for the purchase of Dosemgrs.

“We need to collect data to show the device reduces medical claims costs,” Sacks says.

PharmAdva expects to sell its first 1,000 Dosemgrs by October 2015, Sacks says, though the market for the devices is much larger than that.

“Our initial target is 4 million patients over the age of 65,” Sacks says.

Another UR licensed technology is helping cancer patients. Raland Therapetics, Inc.’s CytoComm Living Biosensor System helps doctors give their patients the right amounts of drugs during chemotherapy.

“What we’re able to do with this … is actually determine the body’s response biologically and allow the caregiver to adjust the chemotherapy lower or higher to make sure that it’s fully effective,” says Bill Rader, Raland’s president and CEO, who founded the firm in 2011.

Physicians currently use blood tests to estimate the amount of cancer-fighting drugs given to patients. The problem, according to Rader, is that the drugs are toxic by nature, and physicians can only estimate the proper dosage.

“Too much chemo … is toxic,” he explains. “Not enough, and it’s not really effective.”

The CytoComm is designed to give physicians a clearer picture of the effects of chemotherapy in real time, according to Rader. The system consists of a biosensor smaller than a dime and a cellphone-sized transmitter-receiver.

Live cells drawn from the patient are genetically altered to make them respond to the biological changes wrought in the body by chemotherapy. They are placed in the biosensor, which is then implanted in the patient.

“It is slipped subcutaneously into the patient,” Rader explains.

The biosensor detects the cells’ responses to the effects of chemotherapy and transmits the information to the exterior transmitter-receiver outside the body. That device wirelessly transmits the information to a private network that is accessible to physicians. Rader says the data CytoComm provides is as accurate as that found by blood tests, and it is continuously updated.

Raland’s chief medical officer, Spencer Rosero M.D., developed the CytoComm system’s technology, Rader says. Rosero is associate professor of medicine at UR.

Raland has tested CytoComm prototypes with animals; the company plans to market it for the experimental use of breast cancer chemotherapy drugs in animals in about two years. The firm plans to start testing the system with humans at about the same time. Both markets could prove lucrative.

“In humans, we’re talking a billion dollars,” Rader says.

While the markets for new health care devices and technologies appear huge, the odds of overcoming all the hurdles to them can be slim, especially for the uninformed.

“The naive person that starts off on a design—I would say just the raw odds are probably one in a 100 that they will be successful,” Riedlinger says. “The ones that understand what they are getting into, that do their homework and pay attention, it’s probably close to 50-50.”

Mike Costanza is a Rochester-area freelance writer.

10/10/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email [email protected]

x

Check Also

The Hub 585’s Life Launch program to provide mentorship for at-risk youth (access required)

The Hub 585 is expanding its services, launching a mentorship program for teens aging out of foster care.   The move ...

Is your strategic plan both strategic and a plan? (access required)

There is a lot of discussion about strategic planning in not-for-profit circles lately. Evidently, moving through a global pandemic and ...

What’s so great about the 2022 Great Places to Work? (access required)

It’s my favorite time of year: Great Place to Work just announced the 25th Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work ...

Loyalty programs – what you should know about compliance with the CPPA (access required)

From the straightforward “buy 9 smoothies, get 1 free,” to sophisticated frequent flyer programs, loyalty programs are a staple in ...

Are cover letters really necessary? Hiring professionals have differing opinions (access required)

“I’m a hiring manager at a local company looking to fill several positions. I’ve noticed that about two-thirds of our ...

Investment acumen or inside information? (access required)

If you had known, in early 2020, that you might be working from home during a multi-year, global pandemic, would ...

Opining on Dick Vitale’s courage, more Bills nicknames, stadium names

By the time he finished delivering a motivational speech that would have made Knute Rockne proud, Dick Vitale looked like ...

The importance of female mentorship, leadership, and innovation in banking (access required)

In my 10 years at Tompkins and 35 cumulative years in the banking field, I’ve witnessed the industry undergo several ...

How not to set policy to reduce the price of gasoline (access required)

High gas prices in the U.S. cause a lot of pain for Americans every time they take their vehicles to ...

Highland Hospital Gala (access required)

This year’s casino-themed Highland Hospital Gala raised its second highest amount ever, with more than $650,000 gross net income thanks ...

Inflation: How did we get here and what can be done about it? (access required)

If you’re in your 50s - o.k. early 50s - you probably remember a time when a gallon of gas ...

Reflections on pediatrics, the pandemic, and the Golden Circle (access required)

Imagine this: Your business has been open for only five months and is doing really well. Revenue is higher than ...

Will 2022 be the year of the vacation home? (access required)

With some COVID-19 restrictions relaxing and others already lifted, the smell of tourism is in the air. Demand for leisure ...

Transition services valuable for aging population (access required)

What do you need to stay safe in your family home, even if your home is getting to be too ...

Elder transition planning: Family mediation for older adults & their loved ones (access required)

The journey of aging is rarely a smooth one. As older adults and their families face emotional, financial and health ...

Senior living communities consider how to be more diverse, inclusive, accessible (access required)

The nation’s senior population is the largest and most diverse in history, according to the most recent census data from ...

Why is inflation so scary for my retirement plan? (access required)

Over the past decade, investors experienced a best-case scenario of relatively low inflation and strong investment returns from both stocks ...

A thoroughbred racehorse whose impact was not lost on us

It seemed like a good deal at the time – a rattletrap Ford van with more than 100,000 miles on ...

Ensuring your financial plan can withstand negative conditions  (access required)

Financial plans differ based on individuals’ incomes, future goals, age and tolerance for risk, but often unconsidered in those plans ...

Boomerang employees: tips on how to welcome team members home (access required)

Every manager at every level has experienced it — that awful feeling in the pit of your stomach when one ...

Spring cleaning: Considering program sustainability (access required)

There has never been a better time to consider the sustainability of your program activities and take action to address ...

Financial advisors can guide through tough times (access required)

With the country facing rising inflation and interest rates, as well as the lingering COVID-19 pandemic and the war in ...

Are you discriminating against employees with caregiving responsibilities? (access required)

As the world enters year three of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has issued a warning ...

Rochester accelerates its pace to become top tech hub in America (access required)

Rochester is on its way to becoming a national hub for technology innovation. Experts predict that it has the highest ...

A simple game for investors: How would you play? (access required)

Some years ago, financial author and advisor, Bill Schultheis, devised a simple game to illustrate the difficulty faced by investors ...

You need to improve your technology, but where do you start? (access required)

Technology is advancing at warp speed and certainly some innovations could benefit you and your company, but it’s easy to ...

Innovation advancements on display as Rochester continues to grow its technology ecosystem (access required)

From LIDROTEC, a company with patent-pending wafer dicing laser machines for the semiconductor industry to Stratio, which provides artificial intelligence ...

Milo the Dog has had a golden impact on Red Wings baseball, community

They had trained together five days a week for nearly six months in the backyard solitude of Josh Snyder’s rural ...

M&A middle-market activity: What businesses need to know (access required)

 Understanding the ins and outs, trends and activities going on in M&A markets can help businesses make informed decisions including ...

5 things to consider before deciding to work for yourself (access required)

When people ask me what I do, now that I’m out of television, I simply say, “I have my own ...

M&A lawyers keep busy despite pandemic barriers (access required)

2021 was a record-breaking year globally and nationally for mergers (combining two separate businesses into one new legal entity) and ...

Ending violent crime requires building trust between police, community (access required)

Rochester has recently been the recipient of many state, federal and private investments that create a true path for transformational ...

Former UR assistant Jay Wright continues working his hoops magic

Mike Neer likes to joke that he doesn’t get enough credit for helping Jay Wright become the best-dressed coach in ...

Four ways to prepare your business for the future of digital payments (access required)

Digital transformation continues to sweep the country — especially as more companies and their customers embrace digital payment technologies.Here are ...

Managing Our Manufacturing Plants in 2022 (access required)

There have been dramatic shifts in both the needs and the realities of manufacturing the United States over the past ...

“Rounding Errors” Can Add Up Quickly (access required)

It’s time to talk about time. For many employees, their lunch break is a time when they can step away ...

Just In Time production method becoming obsolete with supply chain issues (access required)

Just In Time (JIT) is a production method pioneered in the 1930s by Toyota Motor Corporation as a means to ...

Rochester firms embrace 3D printing for multiple purposes (access required)

Firms are using 3D printing to create unique tools, parts and other objects right here in Rochester, allowing for new ...

From mentee to mentor: the benefits mentorship provides for women in business (access required)

March marks Women’s History Month. It is a time to honor the strong, brave women who have broken down barriers, ...

Working across the ages: multigenerational teams offer multiple benefits (access required)

Quick: How long is the average career? If you guessed 40 years, you would’ve been right a few years ago. ...

Energy, dedication drive entrepreneurs at any age (access required)

Younger women who grew up with technology and worked in the gig economy may be more comfortable with the pace ...

Opining on Brandon Beane, SU hoops, a poor investment, baseball’s return

If you pressed me to rank the most indispensable Buffalo Bills of this glorious era, I’d go with quarterback Josh ...

Topics that don’t focus on COVID-19 for nonprofit leaders (access required)

For obvious reasons, COVID-19-19 and the many elements of disruption it has caused continue to dominate conversation at organizations of ...

March worldwide water, climate events are close to home (access required)

March marks two worldwide awareness events for the environment: World Water Day and Earth Hour. In Rochester, New York, these ...

Revisiting Art Schlichter’s sad tale of gambling addiction

Monday’s seismic news that Atlanta Falcons star receiver Calvin Ridley had been suspended for the 2022 season for betting on ...

Mentoring is an art passed from one generation to the next (access required)

Ahhh, what to say about the important art of mentoring? It is certainly an art and, in preparation for this ...

Protect intellectual property from the start (access required)

When it comes to intellectual property (IP), the old English idiom “penny wise and pound foolish” never goes out of ...

A loving team helped Chris Lillis ascend to Winter Olympic gold

Bernie Lillis points with pride to a framed photograph on the mantelpiece above the fireplace of his Fairport home. There ...

Three takeaways from Super Bowl ads to apply to marketing (access required)

Super Bowl ads deliver on a few recurring themes every year, and this year was no different. Whether it’s nostalgia ...

I Bonds: A rare bright spot for the income investor (access required)

Investors have a natural affinity for income-producing investments. A steady stream of investment income is comforting even if it is ...

What AG report on ‘credential stuffing’ hacks mean for your business (access required)

In January, New York Attorney General Letitia James released a report summarizing the findings of a broad investigation into so-called ...

Data privacy and security concerns with rise of online betting, gaming (access required)

As of January 8, 2022, New York State joined the ranks of more than a dozen states that have legalized ...

Potential headwinds are coming — what this means for your business (access required)

An abundance of liquidity and market exuberance in the world’s recovery from COVID-19 have made this a promising time for ...

Rochester’s Roland Williams hoping his Rams do it again

Eric Weddle is one of those feel-good stories that Rochester tight-end-turned-broadcaster Roland Williams has followed closely in recent weeks. Late ...

Napier named board chair of national advertising trade association (access required)

Sharon Napier, executive chair and founder of Partners + Napier, has been named national board chair of the American Association ...

Sports can serve a purpose in times of immense tragedy

In the wake of the 9/11 tragedy, I came oh so close to kissing my sportswriting career goodbye. My job ...

Home prices again push past $200,000 in Monroe County (access required)

Perpetually low inventory pushed home prices even higher in April, with the median sales price surging well past $200,000 in ...