PULSE of Innovation
MTEC Logo

OCTOBER 2020

MILITARY SPONSORS DRIVING A CULTURE OF INNOVATION

A Note from the Chair, Dr. Lester Martinez-Lopez

We are living in challenging times as we adapt to the coronavirus pandemic. Like most challenges, opportunities present. Our resilience is tested and defined. This is the case for our military sponsors, our members and MTEC. We have all stepped up to the challenge, resulting in a banner award year. Memberships are at a record high of over 430, Awards total $176M as of the end of September, an increase of $97M from FY19, approximately $60M of which relates to COVID-19 funding. Our nimble and fleet teams rose to the challenge. Thanks to all who achieved this project management milestone. We are grateful for your industry and resilience. Together we set the tone, pace and purpose of our work, inviting 2021 to look more promising than ever for sponsor, member and warfighter needs.

Membership Growth: 2016- 86, 2017- 154, 2018- 276, 2019- 336, 2020- 400+.434+ Small & Large business, academia and nonprofit member organizations. ~120 Project Awards; $315 Million in government funding. $52 Million in cost share.

Memberships are at a record high of over 430, Awards total $176M as of the end of September, an increase of $97M from FY19, approximately $60M of which relates to COVID-19 funding. Our nimble and fleet teams rose to the challenge. Thanks to all who achieved this project management milestone. We are grateful for your industry and resilience. Together we set the tone, pace and purpose of our work, inviting 2021 to look more promising than ever for sponsor, member and warfighter needs.

In addition, join us in welcoming two new MTEC Board members – Peter Soderberg and Amy Salzhauer. With extensive expertise in med tech development and investment, Peter and Amy hit the ground running with their new responsibilities following the MTEC Board meeting this September. Welcome aboard, Amy and Peter!

AMY SALZHAUER

At Large Board Representative

PETER SODERBERG

At Large Board Representative

Effective September 3, I passed my MTEC President’s baton to Bill Howell, who stepped into the role of MTEC President. I continue to serve as MTEC’s Board Chair. Jill Sorensen joined the team as MTEC’s Chief Operating Officer. Jill comes to MTEC with over 30 years of technology development, investment and asset management expertise, a timely addition in light of MTEC’s enhanced investment and partnering objectives. We are invigorated by this growth and continuity of leadership. At the same time, we are well-positioned for resilience in the face of COVID-19 challenges and opportunities. Telecommuting has its advantages in saving on time and travel expenses, but we do miss connecting with all of you at our face-to-face meetings.

DR. LESTER MARTINEZ-LOPEZ

MTEC Chairman

WILLIAM HOWELL

MTEC President

JILL SORENSEN

MTEC Chief Operating Officer

RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS

Humacyte’s Bioengineered Blood Vessel Implanted by Clinicians at Walter Reed Restore Blood Circulation to Retired Military Veteran’s Leg

“Having been involved with the research and development of this product as part of our requirements-driven combat casualty care research program since around 2011, it has been especially rewarding to be able to implant the human acellular vessel (HAV) in several patients at Walter Reed over the past couple of years. Our ability to use this novel technology has required close collaboration with partners at the FDA, as well as great support from the company,” said Todd E. Rasmussen, MD, FACS and Colonel USAF MC, F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University.  “We’ve now used the HAV in 4 patients at Walter Reed under FDA expanded access conditions and consulted in its use in one patient at the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville. At this point we are excited with the results in these cases and see the HAV as a potentially transformative way to treat combat injured with vascular trauma and select numbers of military beneficiaries with vascular disease.”

Arizona State University Completes a Roadmap to Industry Best Practice for Medical Logistics

Arizona State University recently completed a 2-year MTEC project that produced a roadmap of industry best practice for the Defense Health Agency (DHA) Medical Logistics (MEDLOG) division. The overall focus was on ways to optimize performance and provide high quality services while reducing logistics variability at the point of care through the identification of new systems, processes, and innovations that could support this goal. The project team scrutinized the technology and business process opportunities surrounding the ongoing technical refresh of the current supply chain and logistics systems into the enterprise wide system, LogiCole.

Design Interactive Advances Medical Simulation for Military Use

Design Interactive, a current MTEC awardee, is working with the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command (USAMRDC) to advance medical simulation using AUGMED, an augmented reality medical training tool that provides a deeper, more immersive experience. In September, 12 soldiers and Army reservists participated in a U.S. Army Combat Lifesaver Course to help prepare soldiers for the application of life-saving interventions in stressful situations.  Using this tablet format, the ultimate goal is to create a portable technology that allows overseas Soldiers to attend refresher classes on a routine basis.

If you have any questions regarding these research efforts, please reach out to Dr. Lauren Palestrini, MTEC Director of Research.

UPCOMING SOLICITATIONS

The following topics are being considered for inclusion in upcoming MTEC funding opportunities. If you have any questions, please reach out to Dr. Lauren Palestrini, MTEC Director of Research.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

  • – Study of the effects of concussion/mild TBI (single or repeated) on brain health outcomes

View the RPP

Burn Management and Treatment

  • – Development of a simple solid dressing that provides sustained delivery of silver and cerium ions for the treatment of burn wounds at or near the point of injury and during prolonged field care
  • – Far forward burn treatment including burn conversion prevention, infection prevention, non-surgical debridement in pre-hospital setting, and temporizing coverage/dressing for burn wounds that may promote healing

View the Solicitation Pre-announcement

Casualty Care

  • – Next generation technologies to address triage and treatment of blast and/or (heat or chemical) burn injuries to skin occurring in confined spaces
  • – Next generation technologies to address triage and treatment of ocular and/or aural injuries
  • – Next generation technologies to address triage and treatment of lung injuries from smoke inhalation or chemical exposure
  • – Supplemental and therapeutic oxygen

Wound Infection Control

  • – Non-surgical, definitive solution(s) for a moderate to severe penetrating wounds with focus on averting infection and the ultimate goal of returning the Service Member to full functional duty without the need for evacuation
  • – Next generation wound dressings for prolonged field care (e.g., wound coverings that address bacteria/infection/biofilm prevention, blood loss)

View the Solicitation Pre-announcement

Human-Automation Teaming

  • – Development of technologies that increase caregiver capability and capacity through enhanced decision support tools and autonomous/semi-autonomous systems
  • – Guidelines on the implementation of human-automation teaming that optimizes human performance and increases operational effectiveness

Operational Medicine

  • – Wearable, on-demand device for the management of symptoms associated with PTSD
  • – Injury risk model for the brain and spine when the whole body is subjected to potentially hazardous acceleration/deceleration loads from military relevant exposures
  • – Medically-based performance requirements that can provide behind helmet blunt trauma survivability and brain injury risk curves for helmets exposed to current and emerging ballistic threats
  • – Individual training modalities and thermal models that reduce cold-weather injuries and improve cold weather performance
  • – Military primary prevention approaches that have cross-cutting impacts on multiple outcomes of interest including but not limited to suicide, sexual harassment and assault, family violence, alcohol and substance use and positive outcomes or signature behaviors

WORDS FROM PRESIDENT HOWELL

In my last article as the COO, I wrote to a projected change of direction in the MTEC:  one that we hope will bring greater value to our members and through enhancing the members commercialization capabilities, and thereby increase the throughput of technologies to the military.  We are moving well through that planning stage now as certain aspects are starting to unfold:

  • – First, you will have noticed we brought two new board members into the fold this summer. Both Peter and Amy bring vast experience in partnering and funding technologies toward eventual commercialization.  Their guidance will be meaningful as we start to put forth actions that will be put into place for the membership.  In the investment section of this newsletter, Jill Sorensen will talk to the first set of recommendations that is emerging from the board members interaction with the MTEC leadership.
  • – Second, In line with these recommendations, we are looking at staff increases, not just because of a larger workload that Kathy Zolman alludes to in her awards section of the newsletter. In this instance, we are increasing focus in our outreach, commercialization and educational aspects of service.  We are identifying job descriptions now and should be hiring by the end of the calendar year.  These individuals will be oriented in ways to assist in the education of our members (see Rick Satcher’s article) as well as increase facilitation between our members and large industry and financial institutions.
  • – Third, we are bringing on board service support resources that can better enable members to meet their financial and commercialization needs. We plan on building a reference library of providers in areas of pertinence.  Organizations like Arch Ventures are working on procedures and information standards for companies to prepare for outside funding discussions. Rick Satcher is working with members to fully develop company profiles and advance company investment readiness.

All this effort really displays our belief that we are at an inflection point.  After reaching a success in flowing money from the military to the membership and developing a responsive means to do that in high volume situations, we want to build on our capabilities.  With easy access to most of the military medical research community as well as relations with near 500 companies in the medical research eco system, MTEC feels we can do more than just be a contracting service agency.  It is our intent to move further afield and start energizing the marketplace to bring more resources and funds to bare and accelerate the development of military related (and complimentary civilian) technologies to the marketplace.

I would be amiss if I did not thank everyone for their survey information a few months back.  In this, we see both improvements to our current processes as well as further justification for the direction we are adding to our mission.  So please recognize, we want to increase military to member interactions, speed up the process, simplify the royalty and data rights clauses, and codify some of the cost analysis requirements so they are better understood.  We are also bringing on board as a part of our service support, former military research leaders and contracting staff who could assist members as needed in better understanding military needs as well as contractual and financial procedures.

It is an exciting time for the MTEC, and I am very fortunate to remain a part of the effort after our leadership shuffle. I hope over the course of the next year you too will see the direction we are heading and become more a part as we head toward increasing the ability to meet the military’s challenges together.

– Bill Howell, MTEC President

AWARDS

MTEC has been very busy over the last few months. Not only have we been working on emergent COVID-19 awards, but we have also been focused on executing numerous research project awards that were planned originally for fiscal year 2020. During the last quarter alone we have been working to issue nearly 50 new awards and 15 funding increases to previously-awarded projects. We have also been able to increase our speed to award, in some cases getting authorization for performers to start work within 55 days of the solicitation release.

Number of Awards: 2016-4; 2017-11; 2018-16; 2019-26; 2020-60

MTEC continues to work actively with our Government sponsors on COVID-19 projects in several areas: therapeutic drug development, diagnostic sensors to identify and monitor potentially infected individuals and the development of a National Emergency Tele-Critical Care Network.  The military and

MTEC have worked hand in hand to accelerate the timelines to award during

this pandemic. During this time MTEC was lucky to have Ret COL Wendy Sammons-Jackson join our team to help provide coordinate oversight to the MTEC COVID-19 projects.

 “In order to impact a public health outcome in the middle of an infectious disease outbreak, speed, efficiency, innovation and collaboration are essential.   MTEC enabled the rapid convergence of the US Department of Defense and the private sector to bring speed to innovation for the most urgent medical needs – early diagnostics, effective therapeutics and expansion of critical care capabilities.   As a result, we will see technology emerge that enhance public health capabilities and provide tools for military leaders to ensure force health protection and readiness.”

Wendy Sammons-Jackson Photo– Wendy Sammons-Jackson

We started 2020 with a conservative plan of $69M of funding for new awards for the MTEC calendar year. At the end of the government’s fiscal year, we have already reached $179M new funding total, spread across more than 60 awards. In light of the growth in business both the MTEC and USAMRAA have increased staffing to accommodate the increase in solicitation and award activity. We expect to see continued increases in solicitations and funding due to COVID sometime into the calendar year 2021.

We are thankful for all of the support from our government sponsors and MTEC membership and we are excited for MTEC’s future.

Kathy Zolman, MTEC Director of Program Operations 

EDUCATION, MENTORING AND COMMERCIALIZATION

In August of 2020, we surveyed the membership to request your input on how we are doing in providing you relevant support, including requesting educational and training topics that would be of interest. As part of our educational outreach for 2021, we will organize these topics into a series of webinars for the membership. These topics include but are not limited to:

  1. Overview of the Commercialization Process – Strategy for planning for success; overview of IP; commercial partnerships; importance of cGMP-compliant manufacturing, etc.; understanding the military customer.
  2. Acquisition by Large Business Exits – Process or “rules” for engaging large businesses to introduce new technology; Desirable attributes of a technology that make an acquisition by large business possible; Information related to an exit by a large business acquisition.
  3. Pitching the company – Key points to have prepared when approaching investment or venture capital
  4. Technology licensing – Reviewing and negotiating technology transfer and licensing agreements

Virtual networking opportunities with the military will be planned so members can continue to interact with our sponsors.  We are also working on initiatives to help our membership receive business mentoring and technical advice offered through a network of MTEC subject matter experts. Through MTEC education and outreach, you will begin to learn about important topics in medical technology development, government sponsored research, industry partners, given by this corps of subject matter experts. Members may also receive feedback on strategic plans, fundraising goals, or technical development strategies throughout their project to enable the greatest opportunity for success.

Watch in the near future for outreach from us to learn more about how we can serve you in this regard, including gathering the most current information about your offerings so that we can facilitate your company’s investment readiness.

Rick Satcher, MTEC Director of Commercialization

OUTREACH

MTEC and Fight for Sight Partner to Co-fund a
Postdoctoral Award Focused on Restoring Vision

Fight for Sight LogoMTEC and Fight for Sight have recently co-funded a postdoctoral award to Dr. Ganeswara Rao Musada in the laboratory of Dr. Abigail Hackam at the University of Miami’s Department of Ophthalmology for a project entitled, “Wnt5A: A Novel Regulator of Retinal Ganglion Cell (RGC) Axon Growth.” Optic nerve damage from traumatic injury may lead to irreversible blindness as a result of RGC death. The Wnt family of molecules are widely known for their role in promoting survival and growth of nerve cells. This research is focused on defining the role of Wnt signaling mechanisms in RGC axon growth in the context of optic nerve injury. These data will hopefully lead to the development of novel treatments for optic nerve regeneration. This is the latest chapter in MTEC’s commitment to vision research, and potentially advancing medical solutions that treat our service members affected by traumatic eye injuries.

MTEC & BrightFocus Foundation will Jointly Fund up to $500,000 to Advance Candidate Drugs for the Treatment of Repeated Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI)

BrightFocus Foundation and MTEC have come together to address a critical need in traumatic brain injury (TBI) research – repeated mild TBIs, which are common in contact sports and military settings. Repeated mTBIs have been indicated as a risk factor in developing various neurodegenerative diseases.  This work has the potential to impact service members on the front line, as well as our mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. Despite numerous clinical trials on potential therapies, there is no FDA-approved drug therapy for the treatment of TBI. This co-funded work seeks to advance candidate drugs into human clinical trials that may ultimately benefit both military and civilian populations. The open funding opportunity can be found here.

If you have any questions regarding these research efforts, please reach out to Dr. Lauren Palestrini, MTEC Director of Research.

INVESTMENT DIRECTIONS

In August of 2020, the MTEC Board authorized formation of an Investment Committee to advance MTEC’s education, small business mentoring, industry outreach, networking, member investment and funding opportunities. The Investment Committee was formed, chaired by MTEC Board member Skip Auch, and including Board members Ed Steiner, Gautum Ghatnekar and Amy Salzhauer. This talented and dedicated group made quick work of developing a set of recommendations for supporting MTEC’s service to military sponsors, members and communities through a number of growth and investment strategies now under review by the MTEC Executive Committee and full Board. MRDC leadership has been briefed as well, resulting in encouragement to proceed with plans outlined to advance foundation and non-profit relations, establish an industry partners program and a venture corps of subject matter experts. MRDC and MTEC are working with ARCH Venture Partners to advance our med tech scouting and development work together. We will be combining these plans and resources to advance member empowerment, government sponsor products and warfighter health benefits.

For input on any of these topics, contact Jill Sorensen, MTEC COO, at jill.sorensen@officer.mtec-sc.org.

Jill Sorensen, JD, MTEC COO

EVENTS

UPCOMING:

Redefining Early Stage Investments (RESI) Conference
November 17-19, 2020

  • MTEC is excited to participate in the 1:1 Partnering Sessions.
  • RESI is committed to facilitating conversations that spark early-stage deals in across drugs, devices, diagnostics, and digital health that save lives and change the world through healthcare innovation. To advance the most successful deals, all major players, including both buyers and sellers, are saved a seat at the table. In the past 7 years, over 300 companies have raised $400+ MM through 30 RESI Conferences. RESI attracts incubators, tech transfer offices, universities, hospitals, research labs and their constituents getting on the radar of investors and channel partners. Biotech, medtech, diagnostics, and digital health companies source global investors and strategic partners, create relationships, and potentially, secure funding from Seed to Series B.

PAST:

Military Pitch Day
August 2020

  • In conjunction with MedTech Innovator, MTEC participated in a two-day military pitch session where approximately 30 companies were selected from over 1000 applicants to pitch their technologies to a panel of military, MTEC leadership, and potential industry partners or funders.  The panel helped advise the companies on their technology development actions with either strategic consultation or potential encouragement to apply for downstream funding.

The Virtual MedTech Conference
Sept. 8 – Oct. 23

  • AdvaMed’s MedTech Conference is the premier conference for developers and manufacturers of medical devices – companies large and small from across the US and international participate to build collegial relationships and discuss their emerging technologies with established leaders in the field. This conference is invaluable for interacting with peers, colleagues, and key opinion leaders in our field.