Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Funds & Loans Help Companies

The Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (M2D2) is a lifeline for the state’s smaller medical device companies. The Center offers inventors and executives easy, affordable and coordinated access to world class researchers and resources at the Lowell and Worcester campuses of the University of Massachusetts.

The Center helps smaller firms convince venture capitalists that their companies have marketable ideas and products and helps to develop products from proof-of-concept to commercialization.

In the first eighteen months of operation, M2D2 helped 23 start-up companies and entrepreneurs bridge the gap between invention and the production of new medical devices. Ten start-ups received funding and five of those start-ups received matching funds under M2D2’s fast lane program. Both the fast lane and federal grant assistance programs were supported primarily through competitive awards to M2D2.

Five companies in the program gained federal funding through NIH grants. One NIH STTR fast track grant for $1.2 million went to VasoTech Inc. of Lowell to further develop a biodegradable drug-eluting stent and two other grants were awarded totaling more than $800,000. An additional $200,000 was awarded to two companies through DOD’s STTR program.

Other start-up companies such as Agali Technologies received help from M2D2 to develop technology to help COPD patients. The company has developed a wireless medical activity monitor providing real-time updates for COPD patients. The monitor called “Easy-COPD” is in development and can be of help to the 14 million COPD patients in the U.S.

M2D2 also helped XECAN Inc. a company that now provides a breakthrough RFID plug-and-play technology for the healthcare industry. The technology can be used to track patient care from initial diagnostic procedures through procedural treatment plans by simply tagging and identifying all related items from specimens to medications.

Researchers at the University of Mass at Lowell and the University of Mass Medical School at Worcester, have developed a low cost miniature BP Sensor to use for invasive cardiovascular monitoring. The sensor is a simple method that can be used to determine which patients require an angioplasty or open heart surgery.

Offering other assistance, the Massachusetts Life Science Center announced that they have just launched the 2010 Life Sciences Accelerator Loan Program. This is the second year for the program to provide working capital to help early-stage life sciences companies. The Center started to accept online applications on February 24, 2010 with full proposals due by March 31, 2010.

Target applicants are generally early-stage life sciences companies with a high potential for technology commercialization, rapid growth, and private equity financing. The program has been capitalized with $5.5 million for 2010. This year’s program will offer loans of up to $750,000 per company, an increase from the 2009 maximum loan amount of $500,000. In 2009, 88 companies applied and a $3.4 million investment was made to help life sciences companies.

The program provides support for companies at the critical stages of their development cycle, enabling them to conduct vital research and proof of concept studies, and attract subsequent investment, while improving the odds of bringing cutting edge innovation to the marketplace.

Another grant program supported by the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CMIT) in Massachusetts provides for early stage collaborative research projects to help improve patient care with an emphasis on devices, procedures, diagnosis, and clinical systems.

For the FY 2011 funding, nearly 200 pre-proposals were received and 106 pre-proposals were selected to advance to the final proposal review with 40 awards of $70,000 are expected to be made.

Of the 106 pre-proposals invited to submit a final proposal:

• One-third of the pre-proposals involved projects in the areas of neurotechnologies, TBI, neurotrauma, PTSD, and pain management
• Twenty percent of the total pre-proposals offered novel technology solutions to solve a clinical problem, approaches to leverage the power of information and /or device integration, and technologies that potentially could be of benefit to the military and other patients in austere environments
• Over one-half of the pre-proposals have direct relevance to improving care on the battlefield, during evacuation, help in other trauma care settings, address rehabilitation needs, and provide newer and better ways to manage chronic conditions.

For information on M2D2, go to, or email For information on the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center 2010 Life Sciences Accelerator Program, email or call (617) 921-7749. For information on the CIMIT grant program, go to