Everybody wants ﬁnancial freedom, to live independently, and retire at an early age. But if you see, this goal is mainly desired by the people who want to meet their end needs. Business leadership in medtech requires a combination of entrepreneurial vision, strategic planning, and a deep understanding of the healthcare industry.
Here’s the diﬀerence, leaders in healthcare maintain a patient-centric approach and the goal is to enhance access to care, and positively impact people’s lives through technology-driven solutions.
A combination of strategic thinking and collaboration, with a strong commitment to improving healthcare, Shai Policker has worked within the medical startup ecosystem in the US, EU, and Israel for more than 20 years.
Over the years, Shai has worked with various hospitals and medtech manufacturers around the world, providing solutions to an ever-growing stream of clinical problems. With such a diverse background, we at Insights Care interviewed Shai to know about his journey so far.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Brief us about yourself and shed some light on your journey so far. What inspires you to serve the healthcare industry?
My background is in electrical engineering (Technion, Israel) and business (Columbia University, NY) and I have been working within the medtech startup ecosystem in the US, EU and Israel for more than 20 years. From a young age, I was always intrigued by the complexity and ﬁne balance of the human body and as early as my initial engineering studies, I was excited to create new solutions to solve therapeutic and diagnostic problems.
Can you elaborate upon the core values, vision and mission based on which your services are aligned with MEDX Xelerator?
MEDX Xelerator advances excellent teams who grow companies that solve a clinical unmet need and this ﬁts very much with what I like to do. One of the fun elements of this industry is that you get to work with a very diverse group of people from many backgrounds, ages and experiences, so the ability to make an impact on the lives of diﬀerent types of patients and entrepreneurs plays an important part in driving us at the incubator.
What areas in your opinion, does the health system struggle with, when it comes to caring for/treating patients?
The two main problems we are facing today are lack of capacity and cost. Both are manifested by limited access to some populations. The challenge is to add innovation that will enable better care while reducing the burden on healthcare personnel as well as lower costs for payers and providers.
Please highlight your roles and responsibilities at MEDX Xelerator.
I am the CEO of the incubator, and, as other members of the incubator team, I wear two hats: one is the hat of an investor looking for the best solutions for clinical unmet needs and the other is operational – supporting our portfolio companies and making sure they reach their milestones. It’s a diverse role in a very dynamic environment and is very rewarding.
What endeavors are you currently pursuing to improve the care/treatment measures for your patients?
We are working on various ways to improve care through our portfolio. Some examples:
- A device that can perform a rapid physical exam of Dialysis patients without touching them. This saves time at the clinic and improves outcomes. (PatenSee)
- A home-use wearable device to help COPD patients clear their lungs providing patient-tailored, chest physiotherapy. (Synchrony Medical)
- A system for ﬁghting infection following total knee replacement. (Dimoveo)
What are some of the challenges you face when conducting projects and how do you turn them into opportunities for growth?
One of the main challenges is to grow the initial core team of founders into a fully-staffed company, without losing the fighting spirit and short-range communication. This is a challenge to which we pay special attention.
Another important challenge is of course funding, which is always a major issue for any early stage medtech project. That said, I am happy that the efforts along the years have created a nice network which we are able to regularly reach out to and has helped generate some creative funding models that we are using until today.
Share with us some of the strategies that have helped you in your position as a leader. How do you keep up with specific responsibilities at MEDX Xelerator?
What helped me the most is the amazing group of people that I work with. My two partners at the leadership of MEDX Xelerator alleviate much of the potential loneliness of facing the occasional stressful situation. My advice to any leader out there is not to compromise on the people you work with. It pays off big time. Another relevant strategy is diversity in talents, backgrounds and experience. This is a known subject but in medtech this is especially important – the problems are so multi-disciplinary that the only way to solve them effectively is with a team that comes from diverse backgrounds.
What advice would you like to give to budding entrepreneurs and enthusiasts who desire to venture into the healthcare sector?
As a “recovering engineer” I used to think that technology is what counts the most, where in fact, product-market fit is so much more important. So my advice is to always start from the clinical unmet need and willingness to pay and make sure you understand those very well before starting to work on a solution.
How do you envision scaling your services and operations in 2023 and beyond?
We are currently raising our next fund which will allow us to expand our model and continue to invest in later stage companies while keeping our incubation “engine” running. This is our main goal for the coming year.
What also helps us scale is the unique collaborations we have created over the years with hospitals and medtech manufacturers around the world that provide an ever growing stream of clinical problems for us to address.