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.
Matthew Taylor, the boy I wrote about who once was immobilized by Cerebral Palsy and muscle spasticity, last week accomplished his greatest feat yet – thanks to an implanted drug pump made by Medtronic.
The 16-year-old Florida student finished the Marine Corps Marathon outside of Washington D.C. His time was 5 hours, 46 minutes. For a kid who once faced a future in a wheelchair, his time was irrelevant to the fact of his accomplishment. He finished.
Still, Matthew expected more.
“It wasn’t what he wanted. He wanted to do it in five hours,” Kim Taylor said of her son.
Matthew had been training all summer for the 26.2-mile race, eventually getting up to running a 20-mile distance with the steady help of his high school cross country and track coach. But he kind of hit a wall there, his mom said.
“He said, ‘I don’t know where coach thinks the other six miles is going to come from,’” Kim Taylor said.
During the race on Oct. 27, which Matthew ran with coach Tim Young, the teen hit a bit of a wall again – at about the 20-mile mark. They stopped and Young stretched him. He was able to resume and finish without blisters or soreness.
Not only did Kim Taylor’s Facebook blow up with congratulations from family and friends, she had a giddy teenager with a long memory who wanted her to fulfill a promise. Three years ago, when he first started running, Matthew said to Kim: “If I ever run a marathon Mom, can I get a tattoo?”
Last Tuesday, he got “26.2” tattooed on the inside of his right ankle, the leg affected by his Cerebral Palsy.
California-based Versant Ventures said it will open a Twin Cities office next month.
The venture firm invests in early-stage medical device and biotech firms out of a $500 million fund.
Versant is an active investor in Minnesota companies. Versant has funded local medical device firms Lutonix, Zyga Technology and RespiCardia, as well as healthcare technology business RedBrick Health. Lutonix, which makes drug-coated balloon catheters, sold for $225 million last year to New Jersey-based medical technology company C.R. Bard.
Kirk Nielsen, a Versant managing director, said he believes Minnesota is a great place to build companies.
“Our opening of an office there is a sign of our long-term commitment to the region,” Nielsen said.
Nielsen will be only investment professional in the Twin Cities office. Prior to joining Versant, he was a sales representative for Medtronic’s Cardiac Rhythm Management division.
Versant currently has three offices in Menlo Park, Newport Beach and San Francisco, California.
The Minnesota Science and Technology Authority faces yet another financial setback.
The group, focused on creating high-paying science and technology jobs in the state, failed to get the $10 million it requested from the state Legislature for the second time in a row.
Instead, the authority will operate on $107,000, not enough to fund all of its programs and two staff members.
“It’s disappointing,” said executive director Betsy Lulfs.
The state set up the authority in 2010. The authority’s advisory commission, made up of officials from the public and private sectors, sought $10 million a year for programs such as advising entrepreneurs and backing promising technologies.
But the Legislature only awarded the group roughly $350,000 for programs last year, which helped pay for student scholarships and assisting companies with federal grants.
Now, the authority will operate on even less —$107,000.
By the end of the month, Becky Aistrup, the authority’s program director for Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer grants, will leave her position.
She’s accepted a job as a consultant for Michigan-based BBCetc.
That leaves only one staff member — Lulfs. The authority will work on asking for the same amount of money next year, Lulfs said.
“We’re back to where we started,” she said.