When startup founders in the medical technology field launch companies, they typically have a good understanding of the technology they are employing, and even a solid grasp of the medical field.
But they are often ill-equipped to deal with the regulatory hurdles that they will eventually face, especially with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration breathing down their neck.
That’s why Ximedica Founder Aidan Petrie and serial entrepreneur Lydia Schroter have started the New England Medical Innovation Center, an incubator and educational program for medtech startups located in downtown Providence.
The goal of NEMIC is to help these startups obtain funding and assist companies as they go through their development cycle. That way, they’ll know where they are going, have a road map for how to get there and can prepare for the inevitable challenges in this complex sector.
“We saw a need to work with young, early stage tech companies to help educate them in what a relationship in a regulated market means,” Petrie told Rhode Island Inno. “If you’re regulated, the way you develop a product has been defined by the FDA, which brings certain hurdles, which affects how you get funded.”
NEMIC isn’t just hoping to be a traditional incubator, but one that offers unmatched educational programming.
Petrie said the organization is developing programs specifically tailored to startups at NEMIC, in addition to the standard workshops and speakers that incubators offer.
NEMIC also hopes to help those early stage medtech companies that find themselves in the “valley of death,” a phrase in the industry that refers to a company that is ready to go with their clinical technology, but not ready to be funded.
“We are coming into those companies and polishing them to be fundable,” said Petrie, adding that NEMIC might also invest some money to improve these companies, whether that involves doing a market study or further working on that company’s intellectual property.
NEMIC only opened a few months ago, but it has already built a lot of momentum.
The incubator raised seed funding from Lifespan and Commerce Rhode Island, in addition to receiving some financial support from RISD. It opened up a space on Chestnut Street that has space for about 18 seats and can hold about six to 10 companies.
Already, companies such as MedMates, Vertspec, Lenoss Medical, Bay Computer Associates, Neuroview Technology and many others are working as entrepreneurs in residence at NEMIC.
Companies can pay a monthly or daily fee to become part of the co-working community, or in some cases, NEMIC will take some kind of equity or convertible note and work with them in other ways.
When Petrie and Schroter first started the company, they were told that they may not find too many medtech companies in Rhode Island, but they have been pleasantly surprised.
Petrie said they have already spoken to nearly 40 interested companies from ones that grew out of nearby colleges and universities to startups that launched out of a basement.
Additionally, Schroter, who has deep connections with the investor and venture capital community, also has made inroads to the medtech communities in Ireland and in Korea, where she was born.
NEMIC has received so much interest that Petrie said it is considering opening a second building nearby for companies that are further along in the entrepreneurial journey.
The hope is that startups can go through NEMIC and then feed into other incubators and offices in downtown Providence like the Cambridge Innovation Center.
“Our primary mission is to incubate and retain medtech companies in Rhode Island and the downtown Providence ecosystem,” said Petrie.