Welcome to the land world
M2D2: Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center & Biotech Incubator

    As early as the end of 20th century, Massachusetts became one of the leading states in the production of medical facilities in the United States. According to the data, the total value of medical facilities sold by Massachusetts medical device manufacturers to the United States and the world in 1998 has reached 1.441 billion US dollars.

    Other states in the United States are particularly jealous of the huge profits, but there is only “one” Massachusetts which has a complete and dynamic medical innovation system including top universities and scientific research institutions, first-class scientific researchers, excellent entrepreneurs, excellent investment environment and leading medical innovation companies. In this system, the medical facilities development center and biotech incubator M2D2 is prominent, which as reputed as a lifeline of emerging medical facilities companies.

    Since its establishment in 2008, M2D2 has reviewed about 260 medical device and biotechnology startups for Massachusetts to be included in its incubation plan, and helped more than 80 startups promote the development of their medical device and biotechnology innovation. So far, among the companies involved in M2D2 incubation project, 18 have successfully graduated because they have been acquired or need to expand to fields outside the incubator.

    In fact, the early M2D2 completely relied on the support of the government and MIT, but now it has already operated independently and achieved financial independence, and has earned a good reputation in medical innovation and biotechnology development in less than 15 years.

    So how did M2D2 stand out from Massachusetts? What does it rely on to become the leading one as a technology incubator in the medical facilities industry?

Twin pillars of UML and UMMS and many partners

    The commercialization of medical devices and biotechnology products is time-consuming and risky, especially for start-ups. In order to reduce the risk for start-ups, the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML) and the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) jointly established M2D2. Like twin pillars, the two schools contribute their wisdom to help Massachusetts start-ups cross the risky period.

    Among them, the University of Massachusetts Lowell contributes its strong engineering science and business tradition, while the University of Massachusetts Medical School provides M2D2 with professional medical knowledge and rich medical scenarios.

    However, these two are not enough. In order to do a good job in medical innovation and incubation, M2D2 has also added forces from external professionals and relevant institutions, mainly including the board of directors, executive committee and advisory committee.

    The board of directors is composed of leaders of each campus, who mainly provide comprehensive guidance and financial supervision for M2D2.

    The executive committee meets every two weeks. At the meeting, they are responsible for discussing the business plan, assessing the continuous progress of medical device and biotechnology entrepreneurs, and determining the corresponding goals. It is worth mentioning that most of the members of the executive committee come from the top scientific research institutions in the United States, so they have professional knowledge in nursing, technology transfer, engineering, business, clinical disciplines, health science, environmental health and safety.

    The main function of the advisory committee is to assist in evaluating the innovation potential of early-stage enterprises. Its members are divided into three parts. One part is composed of senior managers of famous enterprises such as Johnson & Johnson, Boston Scientific Corporation and Amgen. The second part is the UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science in five MIT campuses. The third part includes professional representatives from the legal, prototyping, manufacturing and regulatory industries. The members of the advisory committee meet every two years, mainly to evaluate the investment of incubated companies.

    It is not difficult to see that there is actually a powerful think tank behind M2D2. They come from different professional fields and can provide all-round support for start-ups settled in the incubator in all aspects.

Provide more soft resources than hardware to entrepreneurs

    If a start-up wants to be included in the incubator of M2D2, what kind of review link will it go through?

    First, it should complete an application form and arrange a presentation at the executive board meeting held every two weeks. During the demonstration, the enterprise should systematically describe the unmet needs, proposed solutions, funds raised so far, protected intellectual property rights, teams and their expertise, as well as the specific ways in which the company plans to interact with the incubator.

    Next, the executive committee will make an assessment based on these core factors and vote to accept or reject the applicant. If passed, the accepted company shall complete the standard lease agreement and laboratory safety training before moving in.

    Why is M2D2 so popular among start-ups?

    The core point is that  M2D2 has built a diversified and complete innovation service chain for start-ups.

    The first is the appropriate physical space provided by M2D2. In 2011, the Massachusetts Center for Life Sciences provided an initial investment of $4 million for the construction of the Wanllancit Mill space at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. It is reported that the 24,000 square feet project has created six private laboratories, shared offices and conference rooms.

    In 2015, UMass Lowell again partnered with the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center to develop a second incubator site at 110 Canal Street in Lowell. The $4 million project created 48 workstations in 11,000 square feet of open concept laboratory space, as well as shared office space, equipment, BSL2 functions and meeting rooms.

    Among them, the laboratory is conspicuous. It is reported that the M2D2 laboratory has key equipment to support early product development. More importantly, the leadership of  M2D2 will update the equipment by understanding the needs of start-ups for shared equipment types and resources according to the annual public opinion survey of resident companies. According to statistics, in the past year, M2D2 has invested more than $1 million in equipment and upgrading.

    The second is strong capital and network links. Annual promotion activity is another way for  M2D2 to cooperate with industry sponsors. It is mainly to provide exposure and capital channels for start-ups to help them quickly raise funds or access market resources, which will greatly promote incubated enterprises to enter the market.

    In this business line, M2D2's landmark activity is the " M2D2 $200,000 challenge", which is an annual competition to select and reward start-ups with great market potential in the medical equipment and biotechnology industry.

    It is reported that the competition will recruit 200 participants worldwide every year. The  M2D2 Executive Committee will conduct the first round of review. The finalists will demonstrate their technology in promotion and online activities, and will receive $200,000. In addition, they will also receive laboratory space and engineering, product development, legal, regulatory, clinical and commercial services.

    Another financing activity for start-ups is the “Barracuda Bowl”, a group activity that mimics popular TV shows. Some entrepreneurs sell their businesses to a group of investors. In the process, entrepreneurs need to answer questions about technology, current development stage and financial forecast.

    The reason why these activities are welcomed by start-ups is that on the one hand, they can gain corporate reputation, advertise in industry journals and conferences, promote through M2D2 sponsorship and funding network, and cooperate with international business organizations. In addition, in this process, M2D2 will work closely with the technology transfer offices at the University of Massachusetts campuses to identify and cultivate technologies that may be suitable for incubators. It is worth mentioning that M2D2 will not hold the equity of any company or claim any intellectual property rights.