MIOSA Links Medical Industry Startups to Resources

By Iris Gonzalez
An image of a gloved hand of a lab worker holdsing a petri dish

Not all medical or health-related technology companies are large—even the big pharmaceutical or medical device companies once launched as a small life science startup. For these science-focused entrepreneurs looking to make an impact on the medical industry, the costs for specialized lab space and equipment coupled with the challenge of finding scientific staff with specific expertise, often cannot be bootstrapped with one’s personal resources.

San Antonio scientists who are also experienced founders established a private group to help local medical entrepreneurs overcome the challenges of developing a medical industry startup. The focus of MIOSA, or the Medical Industry Organization of San Antonio, is to foster collaboration between scientists and health care professionals and those interested in founding a medical industry startup.

“MIOSA’s mission is to support the emerging medical technology industry in San Antonio by facilitating networking, promoting collaboration, and serving as an information advisory board to the community,” said Linda Mariani, current MIOSA director and CEO of The Corporate Troubleshooter.

The volunteer group creates networking opportunities for emerging biomedical companies in the San Antonio area by organizing meetings about industry issues. The invitation-only group includes medical technology partners who are new to the startup world or those working at emerging companies with fewer than 50 employees working on medical industry products.

“Smaller companies do not have all the resources they need, so MIOSA is a great way to link them to those resources,” said Corey Levenson, chief scientific officer at Santalis Pharmaceuticals and MIOSA co-founder.

MIOSA was founded in 1999 to link startups with advice, mentors, specialized resources, and funding sources for those needing help with their startups. After an Innotech conference in 1998 that included a roundtable panel with Paul Castella from Targeted Technology, Gabi Niederauer, CEO and president of Bluegrass Vascular, and others, many local entrepreneurs had specific questions about launching medical industry startups in San Antonio.

“A few months later, we decided to do monthly lunches and discuss how we can help each other, share equipment, and connect with each other,” said MIOSA co-founder Niederauer. “We’ve bought equipment and hired people from each other and have set up a Dropbox folder for resumes.”

There are just under 200 members in the private group, with a directory that lists the expertise areas for each member. Members look to each other for recommendations on everything from who can perform an internal audit, to who can investigate how a specific drug is released in tissue, according to Niederauer.

“This expands the network of who we are to the smaller businesses in the community,” said MIOSA member Steven Schmid of LifeNet Health. “We support each other with free exchanges of information on resources and expertise that help each of us grow our businesses.”

MIOSA members plan to participate in and attend the upcoming Innotech 2018 conference which features an emerging medical industry day April 12 from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The panels address issues such as lessons learned and raising funds, collaboration with local medical military researchers, the state of health care innovation in San Antonio, and how technologies will impact the health care industry.

“The number of [medical industry] jobs isn’t the only measure of success in our medical ecosystem,” said Niederauer. “Having scientists stay in San Antonio and build a productive career over time helps strengthen our bioscience industry.

“We are helping scientists do that in a grassroots manner with MIOSA.”

Those interested in joining MIOSA should contact Info@MIOSAgroup.com.

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