Mayo Clinic launches joint venture with medical device maker Boston Scientific
Clinicians from Mayo Clinic and engineers from Boston Scientific will work together under one roof in an effort to develop new medical technologies and bring them to market (and to the bedside) more quickly.
The two organizations — one a nonprofit known for medical excellence, the other a leading medical device manufacturer traded on the New York Stock Exchange — announced the joint venture during a news conference Monday afternoon at One Discovery Square in Rochester.
The four-story building, developed by Mortenson Construction, will be home to a 1,900-square-foot business accelerator from Mayo and Boston Scientific. The accelerator is scheduled to open this fall.
“[With] the most talented physicians in the world here, the research capabilities here; combined with our engineering and the labs that will be established here; and leveraged with our global capabilities — I really think it’s going to be a magical place to drive new innovation,” said Mike Mahoney, chairman and CEO of Boston Scientific.
Motion Medical, as the accelerator will be known, is the culmination of eight years of collaboration between the two organizations. Their work together has already resulted in eight patents, three licensing of technologies and two clinical trials, in areas such as interventional cardiology, neuromodulation and urology.
Dr. Gianrico Farrugia, president and CEO of Mayo Clinic, said the partnership has proven successful because it combines complementary skills. Mayo, said Farrugia, brings the breadth and depth of its clinical expertise and research facilities, while Boston Scientific adds the engineering and commercialization capabilities.
“Through teamwork, our clinicians and engineers really have this tremendous opportunity to do something that alone we couldn’t do,” said Dr. Farrugia, who is in his first year as head of Mayo Clinic.
Together, Mayo and Boston Scientific anticipate the accelerator will create an environment for new startups to emerge. These spin-off companies, leaders from the two organizations said, will yield new technologies that address the needs of patients at Mayo, and beyond.
In highlighting how the accelerator should work, Dr. Farrugia gave the example of a project involving heart surgery that Mayo is actively working on with Boston Scientific. The process started with the clinical team at Mayo drawing up an idea for a surgical device with pen and paper, and then printing it out with a 3-D printer. But that was as far as they could take it. Insert Boston Scientific, and teams from the two institutions were able to go back and forth on a series of designs before developing a prototype.
“It was a great step forward,” Farrugia said of Mayo’s initial discovery, “but it wouldn’t have gone much further if not for Boston Scientific.”
Neither organization has disclosed how much they are investing in the accelerator, though Mayo said each party’s contributions will climb into the millions over the next three years.
We also do not know what specific activity will take place within the accelerator. Leaders from Boston Scientific and Mayo noted there is “no crystal clear playbook.” Instead, the types of inventions and startups that spin out of the collaboration will be a reflection of the interactions between clinicians and engineers. The number of employees working out of the accelerator will also be dependent on how the relationship goes.
The two companies have a combined workforce of nearly 100,000, with Mayo holding two-thirds of that total. In 2018, Boston Scientific generated sales of $9.8 billion; Mayo revenue reached $12.6 billion.
The Discovery Square collaboration with Boston Scientific is one of the most significant announcements since the start of the Destination Medical Center project. It is also another example of Mayo’s decade-long shift toward being more open to working with the private sector. Another instance of this evolution in approach is under way in the U.K., where Mayo is partnering with Oxford to open a clinic in central London.
Sean Baker is a Rochester journalist and the founder of Med City Beat.
Photography by William Forsman