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The Challenges and Rewards of Commercializing Medical Devices in NEO

March 16, 2018 @ 7:30 am - 8:50 am

Event Recap:

An enthralled and engaged full house audience interacted with a powerhouse panel on a morning offering a glimpse of spring. Moderated by Ben Calkins, the power panel included Brad Pulver of IME, Dr. Najan Shah formerly of the Cleveland Clinic and now a private investor, Bill Fuller of BioEnterprise and Ken Mendelsohn of JumpStart. The rapt audience learned about the current deal and valuation environment for medical device companies and other medical related companies. The panel also touched on the pros and cons of being in Cleveland, especially with respect to raising capital and recruiting talent.

Let’s start with a few of the cons. The panel agreed that there have been some very good health care exits in the past few years. Also, there is interest and capital available for startups and stage 1 fundraising. But, the second and third rounds of raises, to really build out a business and finish FDA approvals (for instance) are almost impossible to complete. One major obstacle seems to be that there are not enough funding sources in NEO for those types of deals. Lots of capital is on the coasts but to raise money for those rounds, the investors and the entrepreneurs must have personal relationships developed through consistent proximity. NEO just does not have enough density of those relationships.

Another con (not to be too pessimistic) is that start ups are having real trouble finding experienced people to fill the key functions needed, such as business development, engineering and navigating the approval processes. Mr. Pulver described a miracle hiring he made of a BD professional working for Stryker in Seattle who wanted to relocate to Cleveland. He indicated that scenario is impossible to replicate. Mr. Fuller echoed similar challenges in finding professionals with 8-10 years experience, who are self starters and can hit the ground running and make a business a success. He also noted that professionals who join start ups have to be, by nature, risk takers. They have to be willing to join a firm, work like the devil, and witness it fail within 12 months and then have to go back into the market. That profile does not really exist in NEO, it does in California and somewhat in Boston.

One positive is the affordability and lifestyle in CLE compared to NoCal or the East Coast. Capital goes further here but is harder to acquire.

An audience member volunteered that valuations of device companies now are less than other medical service or related companies. A big drag on value is the need for FDA approval which is a slow and expensive process. Investors find that process to be risky in contrast to developing and launching an AI application.

Just after 9a, Mr. Calkins wrapped up the program with warm wishes for St. Patrick’s Day and thanks to the panel and an enthusiastic audience. Please calendar the next meeting of the CFE on Friday, May 18!

Original Event Post:

The Challenges and Rewards of Commercializing Medical Devices in NEO

Have you ever wondered what it is like to develop and commercial medical devices in Northeast Ohio? Well, wonder no more.

Our panel of distinguished presenters will enlighten us and tell us how we can support and or participate in nascent medical device businesses in our region.

Join the Panel and an engaged audience and get insights to these topics and more along with Q & A at the Cleveland Racquet Club. Check in and complimentary breakfast starts at 730a, Panel starts at 750a. This event is complimentary. Please register in advance.

Presenters Will Include:

William Fuller is Founder and CEO of Sotera Medical, a startup medical device company developing technology that will make treatments for atrial fibrillation safer and more effective.

Kevin Mendelsohn is a Venture Partner at JumpStart and Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Pittsburgh’s Innovation Institute.

Brad Pulver is CEO of Mercury Biomed and President of Innovative Medical Equipment. 

Nayan Shah is an investor in and board member of and advisor to numerous medical device companies, who was formerly Tech Transfer Director at the Cleveland Clinic for over a decade.

Moderator: Ben Calkins leads The Calkins Law Firm. He is co-founder of the Center. 

Program Host: David Brown, co-Founder of the Center, provides advice on the acquisition, sale or restructuring of family or founder-owned middle market businesses.

Thank You to Our Sponsors:

JP Morgan Private Bank: it is a leading provider of wealth management solutions and advice and is an important segment of JPMorgan Chase, the largest US bank and the 6th largest bank in the world.

For more information about JP Morgan Private Bank’s services, please contact Greg KeeganVice President, Investment Specialist, Ken Greaney (216/781-2392) Vice President, Banker or John Arrowsmith, Managing Director, Investment Specialist.

The Calkins Law Firm is a premier boutique law firm that specializes in business law and focuses on business transactions and business disputes. Please contact Ben Calkins (440/796-4592).

Red Hawk Associates provides investment banking services to lower middle market businesses with a focus on founder or family owned firms. Please contact David Brown (216/464-8714).


730a Continental Breakfast and Networking

750a Program

850a Adjourn


 Are there ID requirements to enter the event?

Pre registered guests only, please, due to space limitations.

 Is my registration/ticket transferrable?


 Do I need to print and bring my paper event ticket?


 Where can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Contact David Brown at [email protected] or 216/245-7879.

 How do I contact the professionals at JP Morgan Private Bank? 

For more information about JP Morgan Private Bank’s services, please contact Greg Keegan, Vice President, Investment Specialist, Ken Greaney (216/781-2392) Vice President, Banker or John Arrowsmith, Managing Director, Investment Specialist.


March 16, 2018
7:30 am - 8:50 am
Event Category: