Diagnostics & Imaging Week Executive Editor

The Boston MedTech Conference: Growth & Financing Strategies, which will make its bow next week, represents the belief by several area venture capitalists and others interested in the med-tech sector, that it was about time that such a gathering – a fairly common occurrence in other regions of the country – was scheduled there.

Their thinking was, given the region's involvement with the sector on both the product development and financing sides, there would likely be an audience for the kind of discussion that has taken place somewhat regularly at conferences held in both northern and southern California and in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

So, when the first-year audience of 100-plus gathers at the Westin Waltham-Boston on March 15, they'll get to hear and interact with what event chairman Ron Trahan, president of Ronald Trahan Associates (Norwood, Massachusetts), refers to as the "top-shelf people" and "great program" that represent the collective efforts of the organizers of the first-time event.

They have put together a tightly focused, half-day program that includes the perspectives of venture capitalists (VCs), company CEOs, those involved in setting up corporate partnerships and other alliances, and lastly, the ever-popular "exit strategy" for investors.

As another of the organizers, Michael Grippo, who heads up the Medical Technology Practice at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey in Boston, puts it, the concept was to put together a program that focused on investment opportunities in what he termed "the emerging growth medical device marketplace."

He said the program would feature representation from many of the key firms on both the investment and operational sides of the equation in the Boston region. "We've been fortunate to recruit a number of well-seasoned panelists," Grippo said.

In his own keynote talk on "The Status of Private Equity Markets for MedTech Companies," Grippo said he would focus on the growing respect being shown the medical device industry by venture investors.

While noting that overall venture investments last year held flat at about $20 billion on a year-to-year basis, he said VCs "committed over $2.3 billion to medical device companies in 2005, up from $1.7 billion in the previous year."

Grippo said emerging medical device companies "are attracting a significant share of funding interest on a relative basis," adding that the first quarter of 2006 "has shown no signs of a slowdown."

He said growth in device-sector investing is being fueled by "a convergence of breakthrough innovations, more sophisticated entrepreneurs and investors, and a favorable environment for liquidity events."

Grippo said he would note in his remarks that in 2000, some 80% of VC deal volume in the device sector went toward "traditional" sectors, but that the current opportunity for investment includes "a much more diverse set of categories."

While traditional categories such as cardiology, orthopedics and ophthalmology have continued to show strength in attracting VC dollars, he said investors are "excited" by new markets such as neurotechnology, biomaterial-based devices, surgical navigation technologies and "innovative, sensor-based technologies."

In addition to Grippo's opening comments and wrap-up observations by Michael Hanewich, senior vice president and national life sciences coordinator for Silicon Valley Bank, another of the co-sponsors of the event, the program includes four panel discussions:

MedTech Investing in 2006: VCs' Perspectives on the 2006 MedTech Venture Capital Market. Moderated by Tom Cibotti, managing director of Covington Associates, it includes as panelists Jeffrey Barnes, general partner with Oxford Bioscience Partners; Rudy Mazzocchi, general partner in OVUM Ventures; and Brendan O'Leary, PhD, principal in Prism Venture Partners.

CEO Roundtable: The Ingredients for Success. It will be moderated by John Williams, former CEO of Physio-metrix, which was bought last year by Hospira. Panelists include Douglas Daniels, president and CEO of Hydro-Cision; Michael Dempsey, co-founder and CEO of Radianse; Richard Ganz, president and CEO of Omnisonics Medical Technologies; Peter Glick, CEO of Cohesive Technologies; and Allen Ruszkowski, president and CEO of CVAC Systems.

Corporate Partnerships and Alliance Management. It will be moderated by Omar Amirana, MD, investment manager, Oxford Bioscience Partners, with panelists including Alan Milinazzo, chief operating officer of Orthofix; Andrew Jay, MD, managing partner of Siemens Venture Capital's Medical Solutions Fund; and David Milne, general partner in SV Life Sciences Advisors.

Expectations on Exits and Preparing for Liquidity Events, with Grippo as moderator. Panelists include Neil Aronson, senior partner with Mintz Levin; Bruce Roberts, managing director with Roberts Mitani; W. Bradford Smith, CFO of NeuroMetrix; and Mazzocchi.

In addition to SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Silicon Valley Bank and Ronald Trahan Associates, other co-sponsors of the conference include DI&W's sister publication, Medical Device Daily, and Business Wire's Boston office.

For registration information, call (781) 762-9782, ext. 10; e-mail dahayes@ronaldtrahan.com; or register online at www.ronaldtrahan.com.

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