A Simodont dental trainer and Help Me See eye surgery simulator at the Jacobs Institute’s i2R.

This New York State medical device incubator is bringing life-saving inventions to market sooner

In the western corner of Upstate New York, Erie County is home to a bustling ecosystem of businesses, educational institutions and revitalized downtowns, including Buffalo. The second largest city in the state, it has become a top destination for entrepreneurs and other skilled workers looking to make their mark thanks to investments in key industries and expansion initiatives.

But the region, while poised for success, is facing a harsh reality: residents of Erie County succumb to heart disease and stroke at much higher rates than their fellow New Yorkers. In fact, the rate of stroke death in the region is nearly 60 percent higher than the aggregate rate for other state residents.*

For those most at risk, the need for life-saving endovascular devices** couldn’t be more pressing.

Founded three years ago on the Buffalo Niagara Medical campus, the Jacobs Institute (JI)—a nonprofit consortium of health care, life sciences research and medical education institutions—is committed to bring these devices to life to help tackle the region’s health issues head-on.

Based on research conducted and published in 2017, the nonprofit institute created the Idea for a Reality (i2R) Center to fast-track the development of endovascular devices and other life-saving interventions while also building on the culture of entrepreneurship emerging in Western New York.

“The JI [launched] its i2R, to accelerate future innovations in the treatment of stroke and heart attack, which are devastating the WNY community at rates higher than both the New York State and national average,” said JI’s Chief Executive Officer Bill Maggio in a March 28 press release. “One of our goals is to spin out startups from the i2R and encourage them to stay and create jobs right here in Buffalo. There is a reason why Buffalo has raised its visibility as a desirable destination for startups. The JI plans to leverage that reputation and the entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

The Jacobs Institute's i2R, or Idea to Reality Center

See how the Jacobs Institute's Idea to Reality Center helps support endovascular device idea for commercialization.

The city’s University at Buffalo and Gates Vascular Institute, a Kaleida Health Facility, are two strategically located key resources that are making an impact. They give entrepreneurs who collaborate with the i2R access to the top-tier educational assets and the networks they need to shepherd a medical device from concept through development and the difficult phase of market-specific testing.

The first two partnerships, announced following i2R’s launch in March, will give a relocated startup and an area manufacturer help in navigating the regulatory path, engineering medical devices and providing expertise in data analytics and other technical support along the way.

Brian Martin and Martin Dieck, two leading Silicon Valley biotech entrepreneurs and inventors whose stroke treatment device company Lazarus Effect was sold to Medtronic in 2015, went on to create their new company, Spinnaker. They decided to head East, and relocate in WNY, where Spinnaker became one of the i2R’s first projects. The startup’s innovative device is designed to prevent strokes during heart procedures by stopping potentially dangerous particles from breaking loose.

The second i2R project is a collaboration with Moog, Inc., an established East Aurora manufacturer known for its flight simulators. The company is applying similar technology to develop training simulators for cataract and dental surgery.

The Jacobs Institute 3-D-printed vascular models create a lifelike environment for i2R companies to test and validate their life-saving medical devices.

Both of the current i2R projects are in the early stages of development, and could take a couple of years to complete. For each additional new project, the completion timeline will depend on both the company and the idea itself.

While the city of Buffalo and greater Erie County community will benefit from i2R’s efforts, heart disease is a worldwide health issue, says Mike Springer, JI’s vice president, technology & operations.

“With high rates of vascular disease, not just here but globally, the Jacobs Institute’s vision for the i2R is to accelerate vascular medical device development so that physicians around the world can better treat heart attacks and strokes.”

However, it is the way the Jacobs Institute and i2R work with local area partners that make them invaluable to the region, he adds.

“The JI is a highly collaborative organization, working with numerous entities in the WNY entrepreneurial ecosystem—Kaleida Health hospital system, University at Buffalo, local industry, manufacturing and more.

”We can directly harness the power of these Buffalo-based partnerships to advance our vascular medical device innovation in the i2R. The Idea to Reality Center taps into great minds and unique resources to commercialize ideas and, we anticipate, create companies that also want to stay and take advantage of all WNY has to offer.”

For more information on the Jacobs Institute Idea 2 Reality Center, please visit https://jacobsinstitute.org/programs-services/i2r/.




See page 24: “Heart Disease and Stroke: Cardiovascular Disease is the leading cause of death in Erie County (Buffalo). The rate of stroke death in this region is higher than the national rate and nearly 60% higher than the aggregate New York State rate. Erie County residents experience 33% more heart disease death than the average U.S. citizen.”

**Endovascular devices are placed inside the heart or blood vessels to prevent or mitigate strokes, heart attacks, aneurysms, and other diseases of the vascular system, and include a wide range of aortic and vascular catheters, sheaths, stents, valves, balloons, wires, retrievers, and more via Jacobs Institute.