San Francisco Bay area, Boston lead neuroscience commercialization… but Minneapolis, Cleveland lead in neurodevice development

Nine metropolitan regions around the world — headed by the San Francisco Bay area and Greater Boston — are leading the way in innovating treatments for brain-related illness, according to the Neurotech Clusters 2010 report by NeuroInsights and the Neurotechnology Industry Organization. In the Midwest, Minneapolis was No. 9 among the leading regions, while Cleveland and Chicago were “regions to watch,” and Minneapolis and Cleveland were centers for neurodevice development.

SAN FRANCISCO, California — Nine metropolitan regions around the world — headed by the San Francisco Bay area and Greater Boston — are leading the way in innovating treatments for brain-related illness, according to the Neurotech Clusters 2010 (pdf) report by NeuroInsights and the Neurotechnology Industry Organization.

New York/New Jersey; London, U.K.; San Diego, Calif.; Los Angeles/Irvine, Calif.; Baltimore, Md.;  Greater Philadelphia, Pa.; and Minneapolis, Minn.; completed the list of top regions developing the infrastructure to discover and develop neurotechnology — the drugs, medical devices, biologics, cell-based therapeutics and diagnostics for the brain and nervous system — according to the report.

By developing neurotech, these regions are developing local economies while fighting medical problems such as Alzheimer’s disease, depression, obesity, stroke, epilepsy and chronic pain, said NeuroInsight, a neurotech market analyst and research firm, and the Neurotechnology Industry Organization in their report.

The organizations’ rankings were based on three factors: number of neuroscience-focused companies, availability of local risk capital, and social infrastructure (universities, hospitals, research institutes). The San Francisco Bay area ranked first in number of companies and risk capital, while Boston ranked first in social infrastructure, according to their report.

In the Midwest, Minneapolis ranked 9th in neurotechnology, with 23 companies in related industries, according to the report. Minneapolis is a hub for neurodevice development partly because of two large, publicly traded device makers: Medtronic and St. Jude Medical.

Other regions supporting neurotech innovation included nascent clusters like Montreal, Canada; Basel/Zurich, Switzerland; Tel Aviv, Israel; Seattle, Wash.; Stockholm, Sweden; and Tokyo, Japan, the report said.  Meanwhile, Munich, Germany; New Haven, Conn.; Chicago, Ill.; Shanghai, China; Cleveland, Ohio; and Raleigh/Durham, N.C. were considered neurotech “regions to watch.”

Data gathered for the report revealed other regional trends, according to the analyst firm and association. For instance, New York/New Jersey is the leading region for publicly traded neurotechnology companies. Boston and Baltimore/Washington D.C. are the leading regions for neurotechnology social infrastructure based on strong graduate programs and hospital rankings in neuroscience-related areas. The San Francisco Bay area, Minneapolis and Cleveland are major centers for neurodevice development.

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Ranked as a region to watch and a neurodevice development center, the report said Cleveland “is proving to be a fertile ground for new neurodevice companies with a total of 11 neurotech companies, 8 of which are focused on devices.” The report called out the Cleveland Clinicas a pioneer for using neurostimulation devices, and its Cleveland Clinic Innovations commercialization unit for cultivating the talent and capital to spin off companies like IntElect Medical and CSF Therapeutics. The report also mentions NDI Medical.

Chicago also ranked as a region to watch, partly because it is home to several large, publicly traded neurotechnology companies, including Acura Pharmaceuticals and Abbott Laboratories. Chicago also is a financial hub and headquarters for biomedical investors such as Baird Venture Partners, Deerfield Capital Management and Avaris Ventures.

“The neurotech industry is growing steadily and currently generates nearly $150 billion in annual revenue,” said Casey Lynch, managing director at NeuroInsights, in a written statement. “We believe our findings will be useful to entrepreneurs deciding where to locate their enterprise to take advantage of local momentum as well as governments looking to successfully nurture the growing neurotech industry.”