The Global Center first opened in 2014 as a catalyst for Cleveland’s bioscience community. Building on this, BioEnterprise aims to leverage the center bioscience sector and create an improved network of business opportunities between Cleveland and the global healthcare community. BioEnterprise has a fifteen year history of workinbg with science start-ups, nurturing innovative ideas and technologies from the early stage.
To find out what these plans involve Digital Journal spoke with Aram Nerpouni, CEO of BioEnterprise.
Digital Journal: Thanks for the interview. What are the main challenges facing healthcare?
Aram Nerpouni: The healthcare industry is evolving rapidly. Only a few years ago the industry was concerned with electronic medical records and integrating the patient healthcare experience across multiple systems and payers. Now, healthcare is being pushed into the home and greater data responsibility is falling on the patient. In addition, larger amounts of data are being collected on multiple interfaces.
So, now the challenge is not only whether the data collected is complete, but also how to aggregate such massive amounts of data and ensure correctness.
DJ: Is connectivity making healthcare more complicated or easier?
Nerpouni: Connectivity has made healthcare a little more complicated because of the sheer volume of data collected. However, the healthcare industry has created multiple integration tools that will help ease the connectivity complexity, plus startups are being funded to attack the interoperability challenge and achieve the potential of applying machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies.
DJ: Please explain what the aim of BioEnterprise is.
Nerpouni: BioEnterprise is a business formation, recruitment and acceleration nonprofit designed to grow healthcare companies and commercialize bioscience technologies. Based in Cleveland, BioEnterprise retains more than 150 portfolio companies, including medical device, biopharmaceutical and digital health firms. Each year, BioEnterprise focuses on a select number of companies and employs BioEnterprise and partner resources to help those companies achieve greater levels of business success.
DJ: How was BioEnterprise put together? Who were the main contributors?
Nerpouni:BioEnterprise was founded in 2002 by partner organizations Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals. The initiative comprises the collective activities of BioEnterprise and its partners’ commercialization offices. Today, BioEnterprise employs more than 20 people and partners with its founding partners, as well as others in Northeast Ohio’s growing bioscience community.
DJ: How important is it that BioEnterprise is a nonprofit?
Nerpouni:I think it’s important for several reasons: First, it keeps our focus on the broader economic impact. Our mission is to support growth in the biomedical industry. We measure our success on the number of new companies formed, the number of new jobs created and the amount of capital invested in Northeast Ohio biomedical startup companies. This approach allows us to focus on the big picture.
Second, our nonprofit status removes profit as a motivator and creates trust with investors and others in the industry.
DJ: How do you propose to link Cleveland with the global health community?
Nerpouni:BioEnterprise links Cleveland with the global health community in a variety of ways. In 2012, we helped form The Medical Capital, an initiative that brings together Northeast Ohio’s clinical, educational and research institutions; supportive philanthropies; economic development engines and an abundant workforce to offer a platform to connect, collaborate and think of the region’s biomedical and healthcare assets as a single entity greater than the sum of its parts. The approach has encouraged investment and growth from the global health community.
In October, BioEnterprise was selected to lead the strategy for the Global Center for Health Innovation, a unique facility in downtown Cleveland dedicated to hosting and educating the country’s medical and healthcare community. The Global Center partners with many of the world’s leading healthcare, health IT and medical innovation brands in one location, such as Cardinal Health, Cleveland Clinic, GE Healthcare, HIMSS, MetroHealth, Philips, Siemens, Steris, and University Hospitals.
As the strategic leader for the Global Center, BioEnterprise will facilitate marketing, programming and tenant engagement activities.
DJ: What do these global partners offer?
Nerpouni:Our Global Center partners represent world-class innovation and subject-matter expertise. Our vision is to bring thought-leaders from around the world to the Global Center for Health Innovation to collaborate in developing solutions to healthcare’s greatest challenges.
DJ: Connecting this all together is a big project. Are there certain areas of health or medicine that you want to prioritize first?
Nerpouni:Digital Health is a natural place for us to focus. HIMSS and Hyland are significant partners in the Global Center. In addition, our region has recently welcomed IBM Watson Health and McKesson. The region is ripe for continued growth in this space.
DJ: What has the interest been from the healthcare, scientific and political stakeholders?
Nerpouni:Healthcare, scientific and political stakeholders are all interested in the work we do at BioEnterprise and are interested in the Global Center for Health Innovation. Consider the Medical Capital Innovation Competition, a health IT business plan competition we launched in April 2017. We welcomed 180 applicants from 20 different states and 10+ countries to the Global Center to compete. These competitors came from across the world seeking access to our world-renown clinical institutions in Cleveland.
Our key stakeholders understand that the Global Center has the potential to drive economic growth and host the conversations that address large community health issues, such as obesity, diabetes, the opioid epidemic, and cancer.
DJ: Do you plan to expand geographically?
Nerpouni:As a 501c3, BioEnterprise does not have plans to expand our footprint for the services we deliver, but we certainly want to grow geographically by attracting more companies outside of Northeast Ohio to engage with us. Our focus is on expanding the biomedical network connecting Ohio to the globe.
DJ: What else are you working on?
Nerpouni:In the past month since we have assumed the strategy, marketing, programming and tenant engagement aspects of the Global Center of Health Innovation, BioEnterprise and its partners have welcomed two exciting new tenants to the space. Our partners Cleveland Clinic and local business development nonprofit, JumpStart, announced that Silicon Valley’s Plug and Play will locate a digital health accelerator in the Global Center.
The accelerator will operate two 10-week cohort programs annually, attracting 30-40 startups from around the globe to connect with its sponsors, members and partners. A week later, MedRespond, a Pittsburgh-based healthcare communications start-up and a winner of our Medical Capital Innovation Competition, announced it will expand into the Global Center.
We plan to continue to expand our tenant reach at the Global Center and provide meaningful ways for these organizations to connect and grow together.