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M2D2 helps build medical startups.

The University of Massachusetts has figured out a great way for local medical device startups to get the benefit of experts in plastics, electrical engineering, medicine and business. And that collaboration has helped 16 companies make progress toward commercializing their products.

One of them is based on technology for an ergonomic scalpel developed by a plastic surgeon at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester.

The Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (M2D2) was founded in 2005 by UMass Lowell and UMass Medical School to combine the plastics engineering expertise of the former with the medical capabilities of the latter in areas such as testing and regulatory review.

UMass Lowell's Manning School of Business, which includes programs in entrepreneurship, joined the program to help the startups develop business plans to raise capital and operate more effectively. M2D2's goal is to accelerate the development and launch of new medical device companies by helping them cross the so-called "Valley of Death'' from idea to marketplace.

M2D2 was initially funded by a $135,000 science and technology award from the University of Massachusetts president's office in 2005 and a $4 million state grant for renovations to M2D2 facilities. Out of more than 100 companies that applied, 54 have received assistance through M2D2 since it got off the ground in 2010. M2D2's innovation hub is in the former Wannalancit Mill in Lowell.

Not only does M2D2 provide office space, it has also helped client companies raise "more than $24 million in private investment from angels and other sources and $5 million in grants and other funding,'' according to M2D2's director, Professor Stephen McCarthy of UMass Lowell's plastics engineering department.

Of the companies participating in the M2D2 program, the most successful one so far is InfoBionic, which is about to start selling a heart arrhythmia monitor in Europe.

"InfoBionic just received a CE mark, meaning its product has been approved for sale in Europe,'' Mr. McCarthy said in a March 5 interview. "Traditional heart arrhythmia monitors are worn in a harness and are as heavy as a brick. And you have to turn them on when you think you are having a heart arrhythmia event.''

InfoBionic was begun to solve the problem faced by its founder.

"Mike Fahey is a UMass Lowell electrical engineering graduate who was using such a monitor, and he figured that there had to be a better way,'' Mr. McCarthy said. "InfoBionic has developed just that. It's a proprietary wireless remote patient monitoring platform for superior arrhythmia monitoring and diagnosis in the cloud. He started the company in 2010, hired a CEO, and the company has raised $5 million so far and is going out to raise $13 million more.''

M2D2 has also helped local professors commercialize their intellectual property.

"We helped a professor from Tufts Medical School to find a plastics engineering alumnus who wanted to develop his idea into a product. The company licensed the professor's technology from Tufts. And Ray Dunn, a plastic surgeon at UMass Medical School, is working with us to develop an idea he has for an ergonomic scalpel,'' said Mr. McCarthy.

In case you are interested in participating in M2D2, it will be hosting the 2014 New Venture Competition Showcase event on March 26.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Mar 10, 2014
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