Leveraging Minnesota’s Health Care Talent

Leveraging Minnesota’s Health Care Talent

Leveraging Minnesota’s Health Care Talent

Earl Bakken, wearing his signature plaid, works at the former Medtronic company.
Photo courtesy of Medtronbic

timeThe invitation encourages people to wear tartan in honor of Medtronic founder Earl Bakken, who was famous for wearing a tartan jacket at the company’s annual holiday events. I heard that in the early years, Buchan read a Christmas story to his staff.

As Medtronic grows, so does its holiday program. I was one of a handful of journalists invited to attend the 64th annual event at Fridley headquarters in early December. The soaring atrium is packed with researchers, staff and executives flown in from around the world. The stage was set up like a news station, with multiple cameras, teleprompters and large screens showing live broadcasts from Medtronic offices around the world. Chairman and CEO Geoff Martha jokes that his annual evaluation is based on whether he can easily slip into a plaid blazer and seamlessly transition into stand-up mode. He interviews people who have recovered from injury or illness with the help of Medtronic products (paces, suturing devices, robot-assisted surgeries). There were tears and there was awe. You can see the pride on the employees’ faces. Sure, it’s a well-made TV ad, but when you connect the innovation to the humans it benefits, it’s hard not to be inspired.

We need more of this, not just in internal company meetings. Martha knows this, which is why he’s spearheading the designation of a federal “tech hub” for Minnesota, which will bring funding and national attention (read all about “Minnesota’s Campaign for Excellence in Healthcare Tech”).

that’s why Twin Cities Business Something different is being done on this issue. Instead of bringing you the usual broad-based business news, we’ll focus entirely on the business of one of the region’s most important industries: healthcare. We take a deep dive into some of the issues that keep popping up in editorial meetings—from hospital finances to health benefit costs to health care worker burnout. We draw on the expertise of the many talented people in our community working on these and other critical health issues. You’ll see some of their names throughout these pages; there are many others who have been equally generous with their insights and behind-the-scenes connections, such as Jodi Hubler, Deb Hopp ), Frank Jaskulke, April Prunty and Eric Hoag.We are also honored to receive first-hand accounts from committee members (as well as the University of Minnesota Governor’s Academic Health Task Force) TCB Owner) Vance Opperman in his open letter.

In addition to taking the pulse of Minnesota’s large healthcare organizations and talking to their leaders about their priorities and concerns, we also spoke with many medical technology entrepreneurs who see new possibilities and believe in them is one state that can make it happen — if they can get more support.

“Minnesota’s ecosystem is home to amazing entrepreneurs, big strategies, big health plans, and an amazing healthcare system. Morgan Evans, serial medical technology founder and investor on our cover ) said (“The next generation of medical technology”). “We need more early-stage funding and better connectivity so we can bring great innovations to market faster. “

Dr. Johnathon Aho is a surgeon and founder of Pneumeric, the maker of Capnospot, a device that treats collapsed lungs with greater accuracy than the current standard in emergency rooms and ambulances. Research and product development may actually be the easy parts; Aho says it’s the fundraising, marketing, recruiting and approval processes that really test him. “It’s exhausting,” he admitted during a shift at the Sanford Clinic in Luverne, Minnesota. I asked Aho what he would change if he were in charge of every aspect of the innovation process. He said he would create a coalition of Minnesota hospital systems to get more funding for creative ideas that focus on patient benefit rather than maximizing returns. “Pneumeric won’t be worth $1 billion, but we could be a $100 million company,” Aho said. “Smaller companies don’t provide huge returns for venture capital, but they tend to be solid bets for creating consistency.”

Brad Ramey expressed similar concerns. He is the new executive director of the University of São Paulo’s Enterprise Lab, which has a waiting list of 25 life sciences-related startups in need of lab space. In Minnesota, he said, “We’re very good at science. We’re very good at growing large organizations. We need to build a stronger bridge between the people who are doing good work and the people who are working to solve problems.”

Read more in this issue

Hopefully this question will serve as a bridge-builder. We welcome your ideas.

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