Summer 2017 Newsletter

Reflections on Innovation

On June 16, 2017, Deshpande Center spinout Myomo became the first company to go pubic on the NYSE under the SEC regulation A+ rules.  
It has been a long journey!
 
I met Kailis Narendran and John Bean in 2003 when they were Masters students at MIT looking for advice. They had an idea for a medical device and had persuaded their professor, Woodie Flowers in Mechanical Engineering, to apply for the very first grant cycle of the Deshpande Center in October 2002. Their project was called “Active Joint Brace”

Their Deshpande catalyst and mentor, Steve Kelly, introduced me to the students. I had not yet joined the Deshpande Center, that would happen 3 years later. We met for pizza at the MIT student center. They were living cheaply and appreciated the pizza. 

Their idea was to create an assistive device for spinal cord injury or stroke patients, to help restore motion to the arms, because after a stroke, the messaging between the brain and the muscles doesn’t work correctly. Their approach was to use surface sensors to detect the very weak electrical signals coming from the brain and then amplify them to drive electric motors in a robotic “exoskeleton”, to move the hand and arm in the desired directions.

I don't recall the business model they were proposing, however I do remember that I was quite skeptical and questioned whether they could build a viable business. They were not deterred and remained very passionate about their technology. 

Over the next several years Kallis and John refined their market focus, product and business model. In 2004 they entered and won the MIT $50k business plan competition. Their company Myomo was born. The name came from an early patient who said, “It is like my own motion”.   

It was a long road with many twists and turns, requiring multiple rounds of funding.  Along the way they received FDA approval showing the clinical benefit of their product. The management of the company changed a few times when Kailis and John left to pursue new careers.

Eventually physical therapists, physicians and rehabilitation specialists understood the value of their device. Distribution expanded, there were reference accounts, and sales grew.  Hundreds of patients were using their devices to improve their lives and regain independence.

Then using the new SEC regulation A+ for small companies, in June of 2017, the company went public on the New York Stock Exchange.

It is a story of perseverance, 15 years from the initial Deshpande grant. There are thousands of people who live better, more productive and independent lives as a result of Myomo’s development of their technology because of the support of the Deshpande Center, MIT’s Innovation & Entrepreneurial ecosystem. We are proud to have helped them start the journey and bring an MIT technology to the world where it could have an impact. That’s why we do this. 
 
Videos of the Myomo products being used by patients can be seen here and here.
 
Leon Sandler
Executive Director, Deshpande Center
 

Spin Out News

What do Facebook, Google, Microsoft and the Deshpande Center all have in common? Each have offices located in Kendall Square and have capitalized on the innovative work of Julia Computing. 
 
A spinout from a 2012 Deshpande project, Julia Computing, includes those companies and hundreds more in their user base, providing them an open sourced software language. After raising $4.2 million in seed funding, Julia plans to continue providing their customers with top notch service while increasing product development.
 
 

Upcoming Events

Save the Date:

Open House - December 7, 2017

IdeaStream - April 13, 2018

IdeaStream 2017 Recap

IdeaStream 2017 brought together innovators and investors to bridge the gap between academic concepts and marketable, new products. 
 
Guests who were part of our record breaking turn out, witnessed a program showcasing new ideas related to energy, water, food, devices, IT & communications. 
 
To see what you missed or perhaps view for a second time, see the link to the presentation videos below.

Link to Presentation Videos