Entrepreneurship and Education & Workforce Development and Health Care & Life Sciences and Small Business

Indiana life sciences group moves ahead

August 14, 2010

Like the startups it strives to assist, the INpact Medical Device Network is beginning to show more signs of progress. Founded in 2008, the 30-member not-for-profit service links emerging and small medical-device companies with service providers that can help them bring products or technology to market.

Its monthly meetings attract about 50 people at the downtown law offices of Bingham McHale LLP, one of six sponsors that also include Indiana University Research & Technology Corp. in Indianapolis and Rose-Hulman Ventures in Terre Haute.

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INpact plans to further promote itself by holding an open house at 6 p.m. Aug. 19 at Bingham McHale. Extending its range outside of Indianapolis, however, is a more ambitious goal.

INpact is in discussions with companies at Purdue Research Park, a university-affiliated business incubator that might benefit from INpact’s services, co-founder and President Jon Speer said. Speer founded and heads Martinsville-based Creo Quality LLC, which helps life sciences companies with product development and project management.

“An outreach-type of program will likely be on campus in the fall or early winter to help broaden our reach,” he said. “There’s a lot of startup activity at Purdue.”

INpact member companies that write software, prepare regulatory filings and build prototypes lend their help to emerging medical-device makers that lack expertise to wade through the cumbersome process of getting a product approved for use.

Speer started INpact with the help of Pete Kissinger, who in 1974 founded Bioanalytical Systems Inc. in West Lafayette with his wife, Candace. The couple stayed with Bioanalytical Systems until August 2007, and Pete Kissinger now leads Indianapolis-based analytical-chemistry-device developer Prosolia, a member of INpact.

Speer recalled how the meetings grew quickly from the few people who initially attended.

“I don’t know what it is that caused [INpact] to reach that tipping point and take off the way that it did,” he said. “I can speculate that there hasn’t been a lot of attention on the service-provider end of the medical-device industry.”

To be sure, there’s potentially money in it for the 30 companies belonging to INpact. Some members already have landed work from medical-device upstarts that outsourced work to them.

Speer’s Creo Quality has worked with fellow INpact member Catalyst Product Development Group Inc. in Indianapolis to help a physician design a medical device and to help get the product to market.

Perhaps the best example of the group’s potential involves Therametric Technologies, an Indianapolis dental-device company. Its subsidiary, Daraza, has developed its FluoreCam device with the assistance of INpact members.

FluoreCam, which will be assembled at the company’s 26,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Noblesville, is expected to be on the market in October.

“We bid out a number of contracts, but the INpact group was always competitive,” Daraza Director Bart D. Collins said. “We seemed to fall into that niche that they represent, so it worked out well for us, for sure.”

Fees INpact members generate for consulting services are revenue for the companies. Members pay annual dues of $300 to support INpact programs.

Speer got the idea for INpact about two years ago after he was called to assist a company with a project late in the process. The client didn’t necessarily have the best vendors in place to work on development.

He cautioned, however, that he isn’t interested in growing INpact simply for the sake of getting it bigger.

Said Speer: “The number of members is less important than the integrity of our membership.”•
 

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