The group has created AcceLinx, an organization that will help entrepreneurs advance new medical device technologies and create new enterprises. The Indiana Economic Development Corporation has provided up to $1.2 million in funding over six years to establish and operate the new entity. The city of Warsaw has committed $500,000 in funding to the initiative.
Discussions are currently underway with other regional economic and private stakeholders to help fund AcceLinx's six-year, $4.8 million operational budget.
The medical device innovation process has become more complex due to a variety of factors, including a complicated web of regulatory clearances required to market and gain reimbursement for products. The path from concept to a mature company in medical devices often takes six or more years. Large companies are more likely to acquire technologies or products that are further along in their development cycle than in the past to assure regulatory paths, clinical performance and commercial potential are well understood. That means entrepreneurs can benefit from guidance and technical/production support to develop and test their concepts from an economic as well as a medical perspective. Moreover, human capital as much as financial capital is a key differentiator for success.
AcceLinx is designed to work with entrepreneurs navigate that pathway and will partner with companies whose ventures are at varying stages of development in the orthopedic, spinal and biologics fields. Those companies will draw upon the supply of talent, services and suppliers in northern Indiana to assist in their growth. Companies will be provided the necessary strategic resources, including orthopedic industry specific expertise, either from in-house AcceLinx experts or through their network of supply chain companies, operational talent and end users. Other support will include access to capital from an affiliated partner and working space as appropriate depending on a company’s stage of development.
“Warsaw and the Northern Indiana region has been the orthopedic device capital of the world for more than 100 years, now supporting nearly 11,000 associates today,” said Jim Schellinger, president of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. “With rapid changes in life sciences today, the orthopedic industry needs a supportive environment to create more great-paying jobs in Indiana. AcceLinx will help expand the talent base, economic activity and employment opportunities in the Hoosier state by preserving the industry and by fostering medical device innovation.”
The organization will be headquartered in Warsaw, Ind. Although legally separate from OrthoWorx, AcceLinx will initially be housed within the OrthoWorx offices with a physical location expected to be established within the next year.
OrthoWorx President and CEO Sheryl Conley said initial efforts will focus on creating the AcceLinx entity, assembling the team and network, and establishing the funding partner.
“Innovation is the lifeblood of the medical device industry and why the companies in our region account for global market shares and approximately $17 billion in annual revenue,” said Conley. “One of OrthoWorx’s fundamental purposes, in addition to the work we’ve done in talent development and talent attraction, is to foster innovation in our state to enhance the environment for our industry and support the communities that rely on it. With inspiration and encouragement from the late Dr. Dane Miller and other community leaders, we conceived and developed the AcceLinx initiative to capitalize on the unprecedented concentration of intellectual capital and device industry experience in northern Indiana. Regional industry and service providers offer nearly any capability required by an entrepreneur to advance his or her business plan. The concentration of suppliers and access to human capital for advice and guidance is unmatched.”
“We at the City of Warsaw are delighted with the impending launch of AcceLinx,” said Warsaw Mayor Dr. Joe Thallemer. “States and countries everywhere want to lead the next great wave of medical device innovation. We have an advantage in that competition given the talent and suppliers in our community, but we can’t stand still. We want Warsaw to still be the undisputed center of the orthopedic technology world 50 years from now, and that requires action now.”
Indiana's medtech cluster began in 1895 with the founding of the company currently known as DePuy Synthes Joint Reconstruction. Other firms, including Zimmer Holdings Inc. and Biomet Inc. (now merged) were also launched in Warsaw, which has led to a high concentration of medical device firms and the direct employment of roughly 7,000 people. Device firms and their suppliers are largely concentrated on a corridor extending from Warsaw to Allen County, Ind., to Allen County. OrthoWorx members include DePuy Synthes, Zimmer Biomet Holdings Inc., Paragon Medical, and OrthoPediatrics.
Formed in 2009 with initial funding from the Lily Endowment, OrthoWorx is an organization that works strategically and collaboratively with the orthopedic industry and other stakeholders to ensure the Warsaw region reapes and social and economic benefits of medtech manufacturing.