Hospitals

How will Cleveland Clinic Innovations follow up its best-ever year?

2011 was likely the best ever for Cleveland Clinic Innovations in its more than a decade of existence. The Innovations group, which is charged with commercializing medical inventions by Clinic health providers, last year enjoyed its largest-ever exit, pulled in its biggest-ever donation, signed what was touted as a first-of-its-kind deal to provide commercialization services […]

2011 was likely the best ever for Cleveland Clinic Innovations in its more than a decade of existence.

The Innovations group, which is charged with commercializing medical inventions by Clinic health providers, last year enjoyed its largest-ever exit, pulled in its biggest-ever donation, signed what was touted as a first-of-its-kind deal to provide commercialization services to another health system and made several new hires.

So what’s on tap for an encore in 2012? It appears Innovations will have a tough time matching last years’ impressive success, if only because it was such a strong year.  (The Innovations group declined comment for this article.)

First on Innovations’ Chief Chris Coburn’s wish list is likely another exit like last year’s sale of Intelect Medical for $78 million to Boston Scientific. The Clinic’s take from the deal was $28 million.

The most obvious exit candidate from the Clinic’s stable of spinoffs this year is biomarker company Cleveland HeartLab. The reason? HeartLab could’ve exited last year, but turned down an offer from an unidentified Massachusetts company.

There are plenty of other promising spinoffs, such as regenerative medicine firm Juventas Therapeutics, neurostimulation company Autonomic Technologies and health IT startup Explorys, but 2013 or 2014 seem more likely exit years for those companies. So it looks unlikely this year that Innovations will exceed — or perhaps even match — its one exit from last year.

Another key 2011 accomplishment was a commercialization deal between the Clinic and Maryland health system MedStar Health, which officials billed as the first of its kind when it happened last January. The agreement calls for the Clinic’s Innovations group to do for MedStar what it already does in Cleveland — help doctors turn ideas for medical advancements into products that bring money back to the hospital.

Pressure could mount this year if the Clinic isn’t able to establish any similar partnerships. Innovations last April hired Tom Thornton, former CEO of the Kansas Bioscience Authority who brought some controversy with him to Cleveland, to strike alliances with other healthcare institutions to develop medical technologies. However, the Clinic hasn’t announced any MedStar-like affiliations with other health systems since Thornton came aboard so Coburn is likely looking for his controversial hire to come through with at least one this year.

Of course, no glance at Cleveland Clinic Innovations would be complete without mentioning Coburn’s baby — the annual Medical Innovations Summit in the fall. The 1,000-attendee summit brings a cadre of business and medical technology A-listers to Cleveland like no other event. Last year’s summit on cardiovascular technology featured speeches from the CEOs of Pfizer, Medtronic, St. Jude Medical and General Electric.

This year, the summit’s focus is orthopedics.

[Photo from flickr user ell brown]