Investment helps Grand Rapids startup move medical device to market
GRAND RAPIDS – A $ 75,000 investment from an East Lansing-based early-stage mutual fund is helping Airway Innovations LLC launch a new device this spring to help prevent patients from pulling out tracheal tubes.
The funding from Quantum Medical Concepts, founded seven years ago by Michigan State Medical Society to support medical innovation, is part of a $ 450,000 growth equity round that Grand Rapids-based Airway Innovations is seeking to raise from investors. Quantum Medical Concepts was the first investor in the capital round.
Airway Innovations hopes to start selling the TubeTrac airway device to hospitals in May, said founder Eric VanMiddendorp.
The company is preparing to sell after making some “small changes” to the design of TubeTrac to reduce skin irritation, prevent pressure ulcers and improve headwear. The company recently completed the Conquer Entrepreneurship Accelerator program in Grand Rapids, said VanMiddendorp, who first designed the TubeTrac as an engineering student at Grand Valley State University.
“It is a very crucial time for the company,” he said.
Airway Innovations was founded in 2016 and rolled out TubeTrac last fall in a limited number of preselected clinical locations. The company then redesigned the design based on product feedback from trials and is now facing a full commercial launch early next month, VanMiddendorp said.
Ready to grow
Funding from Quantum Medical Concepts enabled Airway Innovations to change the design. The company has a few healthcare systems in the US waiting to try the TubeTrac and “many more” reviewing the product with their medical staff, which can lead to trials and potential sales, VanMiddendorp said.
Airway Innovations currently speaks to 10 health systems and “has really close relationships with about five of those,” he said.
“We have a lot of people in the starting blocks. We’re just waiting to have some products and sample packages ready for shipping to prospects, ”said VanMiddendorp.
Contract manufacturer Keystone Solutions Group in Kalamazoo will produce TubeTrac for Airway Innovations, who recently appointed Daniel Karadsheh as CEO, who has experience in product development, sales and marketing at medical companies. VanMiddendorp took on the role of Executive Vice President.
According to VanMiddendorp, Airway Innovations either wants to increase production or possibly sell the intellectual property. A sale “would be ideal” after “we’ve put that market validation to the test over the next six to nine months,” although the company can do it on its own, he said.
“We are absolutely ready and plan to grow the company as well,” he said. “We are in discussions with interested vendors and parties that we can work with to scale this up.”
Airway Innovations was one of three early stage companies that Quantum Medical Concepts recently endorsed. The fund invested a total of $ 225,000 in Airway Innovations, The Patient Co. of Grand Rapids, which is developing a patient transfer device, and Alerje LLC of Detroit, which is developing technology to treat food allergies.
Airway Innovations and The Patient Co. each offer simple innovations that solve care problems and find a way out “in the not too distant future,” said Ben Louagie, managing director of Quantum Medical Concepts. Airway Innovations’ TubeTrac “is simple, intuitive and easy to use,” said Louagie.
Since its inception in 2014, Quantum Medical Concepts has invested more than $ 1 million in eight Michigan-based startups. Deal flow and investment opportunities were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Louagie said.
The early stage fund targets national investments with an emphasis on Michigan and the Midwest. Fund sources come from incubators and accelerators, university technology transfer organizations and innovation units are hospitals, he said.
“I continue to be impressed with the quality of businesses in Michigan and the Upper Midwest,” said Louagie. “There are lots of good companies and ideas in healthcare.”