Bio Utah is leading collaboration for Life Sciences in Utah that has shown great leadership both in connecting Utah companies with business interests in healthcare and improving life science research and education for schools. This includes a scholarship program for students that partners with local public and private schools including high schools and universities. Working together to improve the Utah economy was highlighted in their last one day event November 2, 2017 at the Grand America and I was honored to attend and hear from leaders in government, education and industry share their successes. Rob Etherington, CEO of Clene Nanomedicine, spoke about the success of BioUtah as fostering a shared culture of innovation.
One of the most innovative sessions I attended was the “Speed Dating of Health IT” pitching. Angel investors and representatives from banks and funds local to Utah sat at tables to meet a rotating cast of entrepreneurs, who shared their respective companies’ visions for real time feedback. I followed a group of three investors through a few rounds. One of the companies participating in the roundtable, Veristride, has a technology that is able to gather biomechanical data about walking, with the goal of ameliorating rehabilitation processes after injury or surgery, or for chronic condition management. This information can help reduce hospital readmission and inform better recovery planning.
In the current fitness-tracker obsessed market, Veristride’s background in physical therapy has facilitated the creation of a product that stands out in the market by recognizing one important truth: not all steps are equal. For instance, my able-bodied neighbor gets an insurance discount for having a certain number of steps each day, and has an insurance issued Fitbit. Every day during soccer practice, her 9-year-old son wears her Fitbit for her. She has never been at risk of not meeting her step goal. Veristride endeavors to close loopholes like these by finding better data about movement work. Their product may be one of the most unique offerings I’ve seen in a world of limitless tracking devices that universally seem to lack quality in their measuring tools. It is refreshing to see a company focused on gathering data about how patients move, rather than just tracking it.
I spoke to the Veristride CEO, Stacey Bamberg, about her efforts and about the Utah Biological Sciences ecosystem. She mentioned that it is great to have introductions to investors. Streamlining the process from introductions to writing checks is the work of investment groups and support; the work of the companies begins after these round-table meetings. Scaling a company from early stage to market acceptance can be a laborious process.
Practice Practice Practice. Companies should practice introducing their offering and seek feedback from investors and customers at every opportunity. I loved the idea of matchmaking to quickly answer investors’ questions about a company’s size, structure, and most importantly, its unique product. Utah investors want to invest in innovative products that will improve the health of people in Utah, and this speed-dating approach yields an efficient way for investors and developers to connect. Innovative meetings and networking groups can help improve healthcare IT and all areas of life sciences at an accelerated pace.
BioUtah is organizing more events designed to promote Utah Innovation. On March 1-3, 2018, BioUtah will hold another investor conference to connect entrepreneurs with Utah Investors, furthering their mission to build Utah’s Life Sciences ecosystem. You can register for the Investor Summit HERE.