The Rise of the Rest (ROTR) tour bus has pulled out of Central Pennsylvania and Steve Case, founder of AOL, is writing a personal check for $100,000 to a York startup.
Device Events has developed a cloud-based software platform that provides information about the adverse effects associated with medical devices. Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern PA (BFTP/CNP) invested in Device Events over the summer and encouraged Madris Tomes, the company’s founder and CEO, to apply to ROTR.
As we reported in July, ROTR is an initiative of Case’s Revolution venture fund that supports entrepreneurs in emerging startup ecosystems, away from the traditional coastal tech centers.
“About 75 percent of venture capital just goes to three states; California, New York, and Massachusetts,” said Case. “Pennsylvania has one percent of venture capital.”
So on October 10, nine companies from Central Pennsylvania — including an astounding five from the BFTP/CNP portfolio — got to pitch to Case and a panel of all-star judges.
“Creating the pitch deck was the easy part,” says Tomes. “The difficult part was whittling it down to a four-minute presentation. I typically have 30 to 45 minutes to educate the audience about the differences between devices and drugs, pointing out very strongly that 95 percent of devices on the market have never gone through clinical trials. Most physicians do not know that, and that leaves the physician and the patient vulnerable. Device Events identifies patterns of problems with devices such as scopes, hips, pacemakers, nerve stimulators, defibrillators and heater-coolers [for open heart surgery].”
Tomes, whose company is based in her hometown of York, has worked in healthcare for more than 15 years, including a job at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“While working there, I identified some serious gaps in their analytics tools,” she recalls. “It can take the FDA two months to two years to identify a signal [i.e. patterns of problems with a device]. When the FDA chose a software platform for their new surveillance system, it did not meet the needs of the reviewers, so I left the FDA and formed Device Events so that I could fill this gap in the marketplace.
“Currently, hospitals are reactive,” she continues. “They wait for the FDA to recommend a device recall. Hospitals are now learning that the FDA data, in the right platform, can inform them of deaths, injuries and malfunctions long before the FDA takes action. This results in better outcomes for patients and reduced risk for care providers.”
Once a device is implanted, a removal isn’t always possible. Effects of these devices can last a lifetime, or shorten a lifetime.
Tomes plans to use the $100,000 investment to hire a full-time database developer and ramp up marketing and sales efforts. Looking ahead, Device Events hopes to incorporate additional data sets from sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and state health boards, and to expand the target market beyond hospitals and insurance companies to mutual fund managers and device companies.
The underlying goal, “is to get to decision makers at hospitals in order to prevent the use of risky devices,” she adds. “Once a device is implanted, a removal isn’t always possible. Effects of these devices can last a lifetime, or shorten a lifetime.”
These BFTP/CNP firms also pitched at ROTR: BeneFix, a Lancaster firm whose platform streamlines the quoting process for brokers in the health insurance industry; CRIMEWATCH Technologies of Carlisle, developer of a technology for rapidly distributing information to targeted communities using a connected network of websites, social media outlets, mobile apps, and TV kiosks; Schedule Engine, the Lancaster-based developer of an app that allows building contractors automatic access to their customers for scheduling and feedback; and TEAMology of State College, provider of education-based technology that supports anti-bullying efforts.
Also pitching were TurnoutNow of Lancaster, a company that provides tech for event planners; Augean Robotics of Phoenixville, maker of robotic work carts; INTAG of Harrisburg, a developer of modular food-growing systems; and Fizika Group, a Lancaster startup aimed at enhancing lifelong brain health.
ELISE VIDER is news editor of Keystone Edge.
Ben Franklin Technology Partners is a partner in Keystone Edge. Read more about their work in our Ben Franklin On: section