Stimulating Cleveland’s Biomedical Industry

Stimulating Cleveland’s Biomedical IndustryBioEnterprise

Cleveland's biomedical industry is booming thanks to the support, research and education coming out of institutions including the Cleveland Clinic, Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals. Entrepreneurs in the biomedical field are seeing success as they research and innovate in an environment that makes it all possible. Known as “The Medical Capital,” Cleveland's 700 plus biomedical companies are shaping global health advancements through collaboration, innovation and a supportive health-tech/high-tech entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Geoffrey B. Thrope is one of The Medical Capital’s most successful entrepreneurs, founding and chairing Neuro Device Innovations (NDI)—a leading neurostimulation company. Neurostimulation technology uses electricity in treating a range of neurological conditions, ranging from paralysis to pain and depression.

Prior to forming NDI, Thrope conducted research at Case Western Reserve University and led commercial product development, sales and marketing in the neurostimulation industry.

Eventually Thrope became dissatisfied with his role of just positioning companies and products like “a tugboat helping a ship get out to sea,” so he jumped off and became the captain of his own ship by starting NDI.

Thrope initially founded NDI in 2002 with Dr. Warren Grill to further Grill’s research on treating urinary incontinence using electrical stimulation. Six years later, they sold this technology to the global leader in medical technology, services and solutions, Medtronic for $42 million.

“The sale was unusually transformative to our group of individuals who had come together courageously and naively and created a great product and also generated success,” Thrope said. “And we were not done, so we said let’s do this again!”

Funding for the future
Due to the financial crisis and recession of 2008-2009, traditional financing sources such as venture capital had dried up, so Thrope and his partners decided to form the NDI Healthcare Venture Fund. Less than two years later, they were able to spin out two companies: Checkpoint Surgical and SPR Therapeutics.

Each year millions of surgeries are performed that require precise nerve exploration and repair to avoid injury. Checkpoint Surgical provides surgeons with state-of-the-art technology to safely and cost-effectively help protect and repair nerves during operations.

SPR Therapeutics is developing less invasive and lower cost neurostimulation platforms for the non-opiate treatment of chronic pain, such as low back pain, and for the management of acute pain, including that following total knee replacement surgery.

In 2012, NDI launched Deep Brain Innovations to develop a neurostimulation technology that significantly improves deep brain stimulation therapy for Parkinson's disease patients and enhances their quality of life.

All three ventures are quite different, yet each company has been built to treat unmet healthcare needs with unique technology that could potentially change the manner in which medicine is practiced.

“I put my life savings into this, putting my family potentially at risk,” Thrope said. “But with much hard work, great talent and luck, it fortunately worked out.”