Who will be the next Medtronic? What will be Minnesota's next breakthrough industry? James Walsh will provide the latest information and commentary on the people, companies and trends driving innovation in Minnesota. From visionary entrepreneurs to game changing technologies, this blog offers a window into the future of Minnesota's economy.

Posts about Business trends

Hollywood, meet med-tech

Posted by: Updated: October 13, 2011 - 7:09 PM

Med-techers, who would have thought your field has gone Hollywood?

Well, check out the movie Puncture, at the Lagoon theater in Uptown this weekend.

The film explores Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs), which buy medical devices in bulk for hospitals. On the surface, the subject matter isn’t exactly cinematic catnip.

The movie is described by its promoters as a legal/medical thriller starring a very-buff Chris Evans, most recently of Capt. America fame. It tells the real-life story of a nurse who died of AIDS after being inadvertently pricked by a contaminated needle. The inventor of a new prick-less syringe bumps up against GPOs when he tries to market his invention to hospitals. Two crusading Texas lawyers (one of them a seemingly dynamic drug addict) take up his case in a drama that is supposedly reminiscent of the little-guy-triumphs-all genre. Sort of like a medical Erin Brockovich, without the push-up bra. (Although your humble blogger admittedly hasn’t seen Puncture, the heady subject matter will compel her to rush to the Lagoon’s popcorn stand this very Friday night.)

The Health Industry Group Purchasing Association, the Washington, D.C., group that represents GPOs, says Puncture “is not an accurate account of the facts.” GPOs help most of America’s hospitals “evaluate new, innovative products, and introduce them to the market at a competitive price. . . It is unthinkable and irresponsible to suggest that hospitals would allow anything to get in the way of providing quality care to their patients using the best, most effective products available.

Hmm. Puncture hasn’t exactly wowed all the critics. The New York Times said it is “undeniably entertaining but stubbornly emotionless.”

Just the mere fact that GPOs would prompt a movie is amazing to this blogger. Then again, med-tech is apparently permeating our popular culture.

A recent episode of The Good Wife on television featured a patient who was damaged by a spine neurostimulator gone awry. Apparently, the product was used off-label, that is, not in a way approved by the FDA. (A hat's off to my male source who didn't want anyone to know that he watches The Good Wife.)

We could make all sorts of associations with that subject matter, but we’ll let your imaginations run wild.

Janet Moore covers medical technology for the Star Tribune.


U's College of Science and Engineering to host the largest career fair in its history

Posted by: Updated: September 12, 2011 - 2:54 PM

The University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering said it is hosting the largest career fair in its history on Tuesday.

Organizers said it’s a sign that more companies are feeling confident about hiring people for science and engineering jobs. There will be 133 companies present for the fall career fair, up 56 percent from last year’s event.

“It’s exciting that there’s so much demand,” said Mark Sorenson-Wagner, director of the Career Center for Science and Engineering.

About 20 companies on a wait list were turned away from the event because the career fair’s venue, TCF Bank Stadium, will be at full capacity, Sorenson-Wagner said.

Sorenson-Wagner said he believes the increase was due to companies feeling less tentative about hiring and expected retirements in the sector. In addition, organizers increased marketing efforts for this fall’s event, including reaching out to smaller to medium-sized businesses, he said. \

Companies that were involved in past career fairs, but became less active during the recession, are now coming back to recruit students, Sorenson-Wagner said.

Unemployment remains high for people in their early twenties. A Star Tribune report shows that many recent graduates are still struggling to find work and some are working jobs that they are overqualified for.

At the U’s College of Science and Engineering, 90 percent of undergraduates graduating in the 2009 to 2010 school year had a full time job or were enrolled in a professional or graduate school program. That’s compared to what’s typically 95 or 98 percent before the recession, Sorenson-Wagner said.

Still, Sorenson-Wagner said he’s hopeful that the percentage will increase, based on the anecdotal evidence he’s seeing.

The fall career fair, organized by the U and the college’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, will take place at TCF Stadium from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is closed to the U’s science and engineering undergraduate and graduate students and recent alumni.

Interesting med-tech reads

Posted by: Updated: August 17, 2011 - 3:01 PM

A couple of stories have been published in the past week that might be of interest to med-techers out there.

First, the Daily Mail out of London published this story about bears being used by Medtronic to study sudden cardiac arrest. The comments from the Brits are especially interesting, although a bit biting, no pun intended. (I find the bear research really fascinating.)

In addition, the Florida Times-Union writes here about Medtronic’s Xomed division getting tax breaks for a new facility in the Jacksonville area that will create 175 jobs.

And, the Seattle Times wrote a really interesting piece here about a whistleblower who exposed an alleged cozy relationship between doctors at a Washington military hospital and Boston Scientific.

Janet Moore covers medical technology for the Star Tribune.


Bahrain delegation to network with Minnesota businesses next week

Posted by: Updated: February 11, 2011 - 3:30 PM

The chief executive of Bahrain's economic development board will lead a delegation visiting Minnesota next week.

The Minnesota High Tech Association said it will host a reception for the delegation at Ecolab's R&D Center in Eagan on Feb. 16.

The association said the Bahrain Economic Development board is visiting the state to strengthen its relationships with Minnesota businesses and consider potential investment opportunities.

"Minnesota is of particular interest because of our diverse business sectors and synergies between our economy and Bahrain's," according to an invite to the reception.

The visit from the Bahrain delegation comes at a time when more international investors have expressed interest in helping Minnesota companies. Bahrain is located in the Middle East.

Last month, five Minnesota companies went to Saudia Arabia to foster business relationships, find clinical sites or land financing there.




Occupations that may have elevated risks of depression

Posted by: Updated: January 11, 2011 - 10:44 AM

An article on Hazelden's new treatment program for legal professionals addicted to alcohol or drugs, spurred some readers to ask what other types of jobs are linked to high risks for depression.

Johns Hopkins University researchers found in 1990 that lawyers were one of three professions to have "statistically significant elevations" in their rate for major depressive disorder. Lawyers had an odds ratio of 3.6, according to the study published in the Journal of Occupational Medicine.

The two other professional groups were pre-kindergarten teachers, special education teachers and counselors, with an odds ratio of 2.8, as well as secretaries with an odds ratio of 1.9, the study said.

The study said one theory is that jobs that allow workers to have more control over their environment and direction on the flow of work may lower the risk of depression.

The study collected data from about 3,000 people residing at five sites. Those labeled as having depression exhibited a period of two weeks or more of sadness, along with four or more changes or experiences in the following categories: "appetite, sleep, fatigue, slowing of bodily movements or thought, feeling worthless or sinful, loss of pleasure in something usually enjoyed, difficulty concentrating, and suicidal thoughts, desires or attempts," the study said.


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