Cleveland Clinic is creating a department to complement and, it hopes, enhance the work that the system's Cleveland Clinic Innovations arm has been doing for years.
The new entity, Cleveland Clinic Ventures, will operate in tandem with Innovations, which works to turn medical breakthrough inventions into products and companies. Leaders say that through the realigned structure, Ventures will offer a renewed and added focus to efforts to spin off companies and to raise funds that help get ideas up and running all the way to market.
"Ventures has always been a part of Cleveland Clinic Innovations," said Dr. Brian Donley, chief of staff at the Clinic. "As we have now grown, and as we continue to foster and enhance innovation in our organization, we need to bring ventures up to another level."
Ventures' strategy will be to maximize the results of spinoffs, focusing on their success and sustainability. Also, the new team plans to be able to look at opportunities outside the Clinic in the next six to 18 months.
The Clinic announced new leaders for both entities. Peter O'Neill will be executive director of Cleveland Clinic Innovations, which he had been on an interim basis. And Jack Miner is joining the Clinic from the University of Michigan to serve as managing director of Cleveland Clinic Ventures.
O'Neill has worked with Innovations for more than a decade. He replaces Gary Fingerhut, who left in mid-2015.
As Innovations looks to have more of an impact, elevating the work of Ventures to a parallel level can help the Clinic focus on identifying and accelerating early stage companies, O'Neill said.
Since it began in 2000, Innovations has helped launch 77 companies, which have raised more than $1 billion in follow-on funding and created more than 1,200 jobs. It has issued more than 850 patents and executed more than 500 licenses on medical technology and devices.
"I think we're ready to do more and better," O'Neill said.
The hope is that the new structure will push forward the Clinic's business development efforts.
Prior to joining the Clinic, Miner was director of the Venture Center at the University of Michigan, where he helped to launch more than 50 startups and to create a business formation infrastructure around intellectual property for the Office of Technology Transfer.
Miner said Ventures will work with technology and focus on a roadmap for it, which includes creating a funding strategy and business model.
"Our focus around that is to create not only high-quality startup companies, but also those companies that have potential high-value realization as well to the Clinic," he said.
O'Neill will report to Donley, as the Innovations executive director has historically done. Miner and Ventures will report to Steven Glass, the Clinic's chief financial officer.
The organization's focus has always been on bringing technologies from bench to bedside, Miner said, but there's a third piece: to bank. And that cannot be forgotten when one of the stakeholders is an investor. He said reporting to the financial office ensures that the last piece is a focus.
Despite separate leaders reporting to different departments, leaders say there will be constant collaboration.
"Being embedded in the same building, having a lot of the same shared resources, seeing each other every day — I mean, it's impossible for us to not be in lockstep," Miner said.
One of the Clinic's most notable successful spinoffs is Explorys, a data firm purchased by IBM in 2015.
"You're not going to hatch one of these every year," O'Neill said. "But how do you do more and how do you put in place processes and expertise that helps give the best chance to replicate those kinds of successes?"
Successful technology must provide value to the patient, Donley said. The new structure will help to pair that tech with the other two pieces needed for successful companies: the right entrepreneur and appropriate venture capital backing.
"And so this — Innovations and Ventures — allows us to commercialize that and provide the opportunity not just internal to the Cleveland Clinic, but allows patients across the country and across the world to benefit from innovation here at the Cleveland Clinic," Donley said.
"Cleveland Clinic venture arm hopes to assist innovation work" originally appeared in Crain's Cleveland Business.