One of the most frustrating challenges of any healthcare startup is raising enough capital to take a great idea from concept to commercialization.
"There is so much great science out there but often it dies on the vine, so to speak, because either the inventors run out of money or they don't have the skills to raise capital, Dawn Van Dam, president/CEO of Health Connexions (Boston) told Medical Device Daily. "It's like putting a fish out of water to try to get them to climb up that mountain and learn how to raise capital."
Van Dam said that she started Health Connexions nearly 15 years ago, but recently re-launched the firm with a new business model and a goal of transforming science into commercial success.
"We are passionate about finding new ways to accelerate the adoption of science," Van Dam said. "Our mandate is to help organizations find the capital they require, and to put in place the programs and introductions that are essential to accelerate the end-user's ability to decide where and how the technology can add value."
Based on a rigorous screening process, Health Connexions evaluates new technologies to be brought into its program. Once on board, an organization or technology startup works with Health Connexions to learn how to raise capital and implement initiatives to help it gain commercial traction.
Through its vast network of over 5 million contacts in life sciences and health care, Health Connexions is uniquely positioned to be able to get the message out to both the investment community and the end-users of the new science or technology to support the transformation of science into commercial success.
By combining expertise from various fields such as market research, marketing communications and technology evaluation, Health Connexions is an all-in-one solution for businesses trying to expand their commercial footprint. The vision is to have the momentum build such that these innovations become a de facto standard, and are well-supported by the investment community, Van Dam explained.
"We'd like to disrupt the current system and break what's not broken and fix what nobody else is willing or has the guts to fix," Van Dam told MDD. "We're looking for unique partnerships or unique ways to make this happen."
And the firm is willing to put its time and money where its mouth is. "For some of the most promising opportunities, we have even decided to invest some of our time up front, in order to help support the transformation of the science into commercial success," Van Dam said. "Our unique focus on science and its growth potential makes Health Connexions a specialist within its own field, and this new program a well-timed addition to the industry."
It's not as if the firm doesn't want to be paid, she explained, but it is willing to defer payment in order to give promising new innovations a fighting chance.
"Healthcare is not well funded by the investor community and to me that's just unforgivable," she said.
Investors often say the reason they hesitate to invest in healthcare companies is because the industry is fraught with regulatory hurdles. Earlier this month, a Forbes article on this topic highlighted a 2014 quote from Google (Mountain View, California) Co-Founder Sergey Brin: "Generally, health is heavily regulated. It's just a painful business to be in. It's just not necessarily how I want to spend my time."
Van Dam commented on the article and argued that high-profile investors who don't want to invest in healthcare now will wish they had someday when they or their family members' are in need of a new drug or device that was never developed because of lack of funding. "They will not be able to buy a cure with all of their billions if a cure has not been developed," she said.
Health Connexions offers its services to existing businesses as well as new start-up companies trying to enter the market. "By helping the key science players spread their message and connect to others in their various fields, while also connecting capital to new innovations, there will be a positive, exponential increase in the speed of adoption for new innovations," the firm noted.
In addition to helping with the funding challenges, Van Dam said her team has the knowledge and experience to help companies work through patent situations and understand the commercial opportunity and competition for their product. "I think what makes people most interested (in Health Connexions) is the fact that we can hopefully help open some doors for them and to have somebody sitting on their side of the table," she said.