Another SC start-up is making good see more
During a procedure with a young patient, Cephus Simmons noticed something wasn’t working as well as it could. Part of the child’s small intestine had slid into the large intestine, causing an obstruction that can be life threatening for small children.
But the catheter used to keep the bladder flowing wasn’t staying firmly in place.
“It became frustrating to me, and it was something that medically I knew wasn’t correct, and something that needed to be fixed,” said Simmons, a Ph.D. and radiology assistant at the Medical University of South Carolina.
The catheter the MUSC team was using, called a Foley catheter, features a balloon to hold it in place internally. After the procedure, Simmons drew up his idea for a different kind of catheter that would have two balloons, one to be placed on the inside and one on the outside of the body. He founded SealCath in 2013.
While Simmons says it solves the problems that were at hand during that procedure, the catheter he developed can be used for colonoscopies and more. It’s also made to work for both pediatric and adult patients.
But it took several years after founding of the company for the catheter to become available on the market. Simmons worked on the effort from his home in Mount Pleasant in between his clinical time at MUSC, getting little sleep.
The company quickly began to take off in 2018. Simmons was awarded a research grant that year from the National Institutes of Health.
The S.C. Research Authority, a tech accelerator program that receives state funding, also enrolled SealCath in its SC Launch program for startups in 2018. The program gives companies mentorship and capital in order to grow.
SealCath went to market in the summer of 2019. Then, Simmons secured a patent in Canada in 2020.
When COVID-19 shut hospitals’ doors to many patients, visitors and vendors, SealCath also had to shut down temporarily. Business picked back up by the end of 2020, and now Simmons plans to bring to market a silicon version of his catheter this fall — it’s available in latex for now, and some buyers are concerned about allergies to the material.
Innovations in the life sciences are some of the most promising in Charleston’s burgeoning technology industry.
Health care technology, along with biotech and pharmaceuticals, make up two of the state’s top three startup industries, according to an annual analysis by BIP Capital. Still, in terms of the amount of outside funding coming in, South Carolina’s startups can’t match the size of Georgia’s, North Carolina’s, Florida’s or Tennessee’s in the Southeast.
SealCath is one of a number of successful spin-offs to come from researchers and clinicians at MUSC.
Simmons didn’t imagine becoming the CEO of a startup company when he decided to go into medicine.
“Innovation does the same thing as what I’ve been doing my whole career, which is helping patients,” he said. “If you find the right product that’s going to improve health care, then innovation is actually just as good or better than what I’ve been doing the whole time as far as taking care of my patients.”
Simmons plans to retire from MUSC, which he now counts among his customers, this year and take his catheter on the road to market it to other hospitals. His long-term goal is to export the device to Canada.
Simmons graduated from Walterboro High School. He is married with four children.
SEMDA, SEBIO Merge into Southeast Life Sciences see more
Representatives from the Southeastern Medical Device Association (SEMDA) and Southeast BIO (SEBIO) have announced that the two organizations have officially merged to form Southeast Life Sciences. The merger provides a single platform for medtech and bioscience innovation, partnering and investor relations in the region.
“The convergence of medical technologies, including devices, with bioscience technologies including drugs, data, digital and combination products necessitates the convergence of these entities,” former SEMDA Executive Director and now Southeast Life Science Executive Director Jason Rupp says. “In order to respond to the combined needs of stakeholders in both ecosystems, the time has arrived for SEBIO and SEMDA to come together under one roof.”
Combining individuals, corporations, universities and other entities in one regional industry organization mitigates “death by one thousand conferences,” ensuring more efficient use of time and resources, Rupp says.
New technologies like nanoparticles and microneedles for drug delivery coming out of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, a joint program of Emory University and Georgia Tech, are tangible examples of the potential for innovation when multiple scientific disciplines connect.
“With the advent of devices like Cardiomems that blend device with data and devices that deliver pharmaceutical therapies, close connectivity between medical device and bioscience innovators is advantageous to regional stakeholders, especially investors,” Rupp says.
“Because clients span the entirety of medtech innovation including devices, pharmaceutical therapies and combination devices, many companies like ours needed to support both organizations,” says former SEMDA Chair Tiffany Wilson, CEO of the Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI). “Financially, this meant telling them, ‘We have this amount of funding support for you. You have to figure out how to divvy it up.’ While both SEBIO and SEMDA flagship conferences had value, bringing them under the same roof brings connectivity, educational and financial efficiency gains for all concerned that should lift medtech and life science innovation and investment across the board.”
The inaugural ADVANSE Life Science Conference, Southeast Life Science’s flagship event will be May 28-29, 2020 in Charleston, SC. Organizers expect to convene more than 500 attendees, including a significant number of investors, highlighting innovations from 50 early stage medtech and bioscience companies over the two-day conference.
David Day, Executive Director of Southeast BIO, added, “Southeast BIO and SEMDA have been operating as sister organizations for medtech and life science stakeholders in the southeast. The resulting merger will provide a critical mass of innovation that will be more than the sum of its parts.”
South Carolina Innovators, Inventors convene at SEMDA conference to present to Venture Capitalists see more
State’s Innovators, Inventors, convene at conference to present to Venture Capitalists
GREENVILLE, SC – April 6, 2018 – The Southeastern Medical Device Association (SEMDA) -- a non-profit trade association driven to make the southeast a world-class region for medical technology, device, and diagnostic companies – brings its 2018 conference to South Carolina for the first time May 2-4, 2018, attracting hundreds of executives to Greenville to meet, negotiate, learn, network and grow the medical device industry in the Southeast.
Focused on accelerating device development and helping organizations and individuals gain access to funding, education, and networking opportunities, the annual conference is a must-attend for medical device companies, inventors, physicians, investors, tech transfer offices, universities, and service providers interested in growing the medical device industry in North America, and even globally.
As part of SEMDA 2018’s many activities, SCBIO and SCRA are collaborating to present PitchRounds 2018 – a highly targeted venue for both start-ups and “Seed” companies as well as later-stage (or Series A or later) organizations to present their ideas, innovations and products to panels of institutional investors, regulatory leaders, venture capital directors, IP experts and others in structured sessions.
Selected participants will receive individual feedback on their presentations and compete for $10,000 in top prize money for selected winners. Participating presenters also receive two full conference registrations and access to meet with investors and partners at sessions and networking receptions. Global law firm Eversheds Sutherland, one of the 50 largest law firms globally, is also a co-sponsor of PitchRounds.
Applying to present is both free and simple, with full details available online at www.SEMDA.net/conference/pitchrounds or at www.SCBIO.org. The deadline to complete the simple application to be considered is close of business April 13, 2018.
SCBIO Vice President Erin Ford noted, “SCBIO and our co-sponsors are delighted to make PitchRounds a possibility for South Carolina’s emerging medtech companies to showcase their innovations and solutions, and to directly access investors and industry leaders to gain direct feedback on their innovations.”
“While entries will be considered from across the entire Southeast and presentation spots are limited, we are confident that South Carolina will be well represented based on the robust pipeline of innovations the South Carolina life sciences community has been working on. We encourage all early- and later-stage companies to enter the PitchRounds program and showcase the Palmetto State’s talents.”
SCBIO is South Carolina’s investor-driven public/private economic development organization exclusively focused on building, advancing, and growing the life sciences industry in the state. The industry has an $11.4 billion annual economic impact in the Palmetto State, with more than 400 firms and 15,000 professionals directly involved in the research, development and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental and agricultural biotech and products. The state-wide nonprofit has offices in Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston, and represents companies in the advanced medicines, medical devices, equipment, diagnostics, IT, and healthcare outcome industries.
SCBIO is the official state affiliate of BIO -- the world's largest trade association representing biotechnology organizations. SCBIO members include academic institutions, biotech companies, med-tech companies, entrepreneurial organizations, service providers, thought leaders, economic development organizations and related groups whose members are leading the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotech and med-tech products that will make a difference across the Palmetto State, and around the world.