It’s graduation day for Winter Innovations and the other teams participating in one of the three start-up accelerators that comprise the “Memphis Summer of Acceleration” program.
The teams will make their pitches starting at 3:30 p.m. CDT at the Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education. As noted in this May article in teknovation.biz, Lia Winter, Founder of Winter Innovations and creator of the EasyWhipTM device used for orthopedic reconstruction procedures, led one of the 10 participating teams.
The “Memphis Summer of Acceleration” is an umbrella for three separate accelerators. They are the:
- “ZeroTo510 Medical Device Accelerator” that specializes in developing and commercializing medical devices that typically utilize the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) 510k regulatory pathway;
- “Sky High Civic Technology Accelerator,” designed to fit within the greater Smart Memphis effort; and
- “Sparkgap Logistics Accelerator” that connects start-ups investing in logistics solutions in intelligent packaging, supply chain visibility and supply chain data analytics, and gives access to expertise and potential customers across the dense and diverse logistics industry in Memphis.
We caught-up recently with Winter to get her thoughts on the summer.
“The ‘ZeroTo510’ program has been a fantastic experience,” she said. “The word ‘accelerator’ is an accurate descriptor, and I feel like we have been moving at an absolute sprint for the past 100 days. Time has flown by.”
Winter identified several main benefits that she has gained from participating in the accelerator.
“First is the advanced medical device-focused curriculum,” she said. “Every week, we have scheduled sessions that focus on a range of topics including prototyping, manufacturing, regulatory, quality, packaging, testing, and commercialization. These sessions have provided us with connections to industry experts with years of experience in each of the areas.”
In addition to the group sessions, she also cited the opportunity to seek individualized advice and mentorship from these experts as a second major benefit of the program and the fact that Memphis is a hub for orthopedics, something that has been especially valuable for us.
“Finally, I think there has been a lot of benefit having the opportunity to grow with our peers in the cohort,” Winter said. “We are lucky to be surrounded by an incredibly talented group of individuals, and we have learned a lot from them.”
Over the summer, she says Winter Innovations accomplished several important de-risking milestones. “We completed a pilot study on animal tissue to test the usability as well as speed and strength benefits of EasyWhipTM,” Winter explained. “A foot and ankle surgeon also used EasyWhipTM in a cadaver lab for a simulated surgical procedure. We have transferred the design to a specialty needle manufacturer, so our first production batch of prototypes will be ready in a few weeks.”
The next key milestone to commercialization is submitting the start-up’s 510k to the FDA for regulatory clearance. Winter says that, “prior to submission, we will be performing validation testing on the needles to ensure safety and efficacy of our product. After clearance, we’ll be targeting key surgeons as our first adopters for limited market release. We are also exploring partnership opportunities to help us scale sales and distribution.”