Up & Running with SuraMedical’s Marja Engel and Jon Engel of gBETA Medtech

September 26  

gener8tor, a nationally ranked accelerator program, has partnered with Boston Scientific to launch a healthcare-focused program in Medical Alley with additional support from the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic. Their first cohort wrapped up in June and the second cohort was announced in July.

Over the next few weeks, we will profile the second cohort of companies.

SuraMedical takes the guesswork out of the treatment of chronic leg wounds by remotely monitoring the critical aspects of standard care: compression, elevation, and ambulation. SuraMedical’s solution improves treatment consistency and lowers costs for wound care centers, in-home nursing services, and long-term care facilities treating chronic wounds.

What difference does this make for patients?

Chronic leg wounds are an enormous problem, impacting over 2 million patients every year in the US alone. In addition to the substantial costs of treating wounds that may take six months or more to heal, these patients experience considerable social distress: pain, loss of sleep, restricted mobility, reduced work capacity, and social isolation. SuraMedical’s WoundAlert promises to return patients to their normal lives more quickly and at a lower cost.

What motivated you to take on this issue? 

At the 2016 MIT Grand Hack, Jon met a wound care physician, Dr. Noah Rosen, who expressed his frustration at being unable to treat his patients to the full extent of his abilities given the lack of information he had about what happens outside his office. Jon was drawn to a tractable technical problem that fit well with his competencies, and the two formed SuraMedical in 2017. As we learned more about chronic wounds, we quickly uncovered members of our own families that have suffered from them — given the prevalence of the condition, almost everyone knows someone who has — and were surprised by the proximity of a devastating condition that remains almost entirely unrecognized by the lay community. Every conversation is a chance, not just to advance towards a practical improvement in the care of these patients, but to elevate awareness of a significant and growing problem.

What did you do before starting this company?

Jon was a research scientist at Corventis, a cardiac monitoring startup that was acquired by Medtronic in 2015. Marja was an Associate Principal at McKinsey & Company, then a VP of Marketing at Ecolab before joining SuraMedical earlier this year.

How can the Medical Alley community best support your work?

Startups are hard: Resources are scarce, the ratio of unknown-to-known is impossibly high, and naysayers abound. And healthcare startups — with a complex web of stakeholders, long development and approval timelines, and real human stakes — are harder still. The Medical Alley community can help by openly discussing healthcare’s major unmet needs, patiently teaching innovators about the intricacies of the healthcare marketplace as we seek viable commercialization pathways, and opening their doors as partners to trial even early-stage solutions.

And finally, why participate in gBETA?

One of the major risks for all startups is spending too much time in isolation, which can create an echo chamber. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to interact with and be challenged by the gBETA team, our fellow founders, and the network of mentors and healthcare experts affiliated with gBETA and its co-sponsors. We are closing our feedback loop far more effectively with gBETA’s help and look forward to maintaining that momentum well beyond the end of the formal program.

About gBETA Medtech

gBETA Medtech is a free, seven-week accelerator that works with medical device, healthcare-related software, biotech and diagnostics startups. Part of gener8tor, a nationally ranked accelerator program, gBETA Medtech is in partnership with Boston Scientific and supported by the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota. For more information visit https://www.gbetamedtech.com/

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