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Continuing to Foster Innovation in Rochester

August 01, 2019 06:49 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- Rochester is the third most innovative city in the country, that’s according to a Business Insider report released last month.

It comes as no surprise, as city leaders have been working to foster that innovation for years.

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Three and a half years ago, the Destination Medical Center (DMC) and Mayo Clinic launched the first Investor & Innovator Forum.

"We knew that Rochester had a lot of people coming up with great ideas, whether that’s in healthcare or technology or whatever it might be. The origins of this was let’s get these people with these great ideas in front of and together with people who can invest in those technologies and take them to market," said Chris Schad, DMC Director of Business Development for Discovery Square.

Something Ross Higgins said has been invaluable for his startup Phenomix Sciences, which spun out from technology developed at Mayo Clinic.

"We're developing a blood test that can identify the different subtypes of obesity which can then be applied to make the existing treatments for obesity more effective," he said.

The startup has a presence in both the Twin Cities and Rochester.

"It's a really vibrant ecosystem down here with the Mayo and technology coming out," he said.

He added that events like the Investor and Innovator forum make it easier for entrepreneurs to connect with industry leaders. 
"We're looking forward to the investment and innovation pitch this afternoon and meeting with a few venture capital funds we haven't spoken with yet about our investment opportunities. We're hoping to make some good connections there," he said.

Christopher Melsha with Fredrikson & Byron, which is co-presenting the forum, said that is a crucial component of the event.

"Whether those investors are going to be the ones who partner with them---probably not. But they are able to open up a network for those new entrepreneurs," he said.

Since that very first forum, Schad said that a lot has changed. The number of people at the event has more than doubled, bringing people from surrounding communities to the Med City.

"Unless those investment dollars and the people who manage those investment funds know the innovation is here, they won't come here and invest in the companies. This is a way of showcasing what is happening here in Rochester and getting people's attention," he said. 

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