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In Europe, A Device Incubator Takes On New Partners

Executive Summary

MD Start, a European medical device incubator, was launched in 2009 as a collaboration between medtech giant Medtronic Inc. and Paris-based venture firm Sofinnova Partners, to help European physicians bring their ideas to market. The incubator announces two new shareholders in the venture, reinforcing both its US and European connections: Milan-based cardiovascular leader Sorin Group SPA and US venture firm Versant Ventures.

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Medical device companies have always faced technological, regulatory, reimbursement and market risk, and a new risk has been recently added to this existing set of challenges: financing risk. Longer product development cycles mean sustained funding requirements, at a time when venture funds are less numerous and smaller, and syndicates have become difficult to assemble. These dynamics have sent many companies scurrying to Europe, in search of a more predictable regulatory environment and alternative sources of funding, according to a panel of European venture capitalists that spoke at the IN3 (Investment In Innovation) medical device conference sponsored by Elsevier Business Intelligence, which was held in Paris in March 2011. We queried the panelists to find out if they're optimistic or pessimistic about medtech investing for the future, what kinds of deals they find attractive now, whether medical device investments still have merits relative to pharmaceutical deals, what advantages Europe might offer to the US as a field of investment, and how companies can survive among a scarcity of funds.

Medtech Venture Capital: The View From Europe

Medical device companies have always faced technological, regulatory, reimbursement and market risk, and a new risk has been recently added to this existing set of challenges: financing risk. Longer product development cycles mean sustained funding requirements, at a time when venture funds are less numerous and smaller, and syndicates have become difficult to assemble. These dynamics have sent many companies scurrying to Europe, in search of a more predictable regulatory environment and alternative sources of funding, according to a panel of European venture capitalists that spoke at the IN3 (Investment In Innovation) medical device conference sponsored by Elsevier Business Intelligence, which was held in Paris in March 2011. We queried the panelists to find out if they're optimistic or pessimistic about medtech investing for the future, what kinds of deals they find attractive now, whether medical device investments still have merits relative to pharmaceutical deals, what advantages Europe might offer to the US as a field of investment, and how companies can survive among a scarcity of funds.

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