Medical technology companies growing regionwide

Published: Thursday, May. 9, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 6B

The Sacramento region is seeing growth in medical technology companies and jobs, according to a report released today by the Sacramento Area Regional Technology Alliance.

The "SARTA 2013 MedStart Progress Report" says the six-county region added 18 new med tech companies in 2012, representing a 10 percent year-over-year net gain to 126 firms.

This year's report includes the newly added segments of medical software and telehealth companies, contributing to overall regional med tech employment of 4,961. Telehealth combines medical and telecommunications technologies.

SARTA's 2012 report, showing 4,712 jobs, did not include the software and telehealth segments, but officials were still pleased with the general growth trend.

Ten of the 18 new companies identified by SARTA are startups; the remaining eight primarily serve the telehealth and med tech software markets.

"We're very excited about the emergence of so many new med tech companies in just the past year. It's a clear indication that the Sacramento region has a thriving community of entrepreneurs and innovators in the med tech space," said Cary Adams, chair of SARTA's MedStart program, a medical technology incubator.

Adams also reported "sharp increases in research funding, plus additional venture capital investment, although funding for early-stage med tech remains challenging everywhere."

Meg Arnold, CEO of SARTA, said she was delighted with the report's numbers because they dovetailed with anecdotal accounts she has been hearing for months.

"It was great to see that confirmed by the numbers in the report," she said.

The report comes as SARTA gears up for this year's SARTA Med Tech Showcase, 1:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Red Lion Hotel Woodlake Conference Center along Highway 160 north of downtown Sacramento.

Billed as the largest medical technology gathering in the region, the showcase will feature expert speakers, representatives of the region's four leading health systems, a discussion of med tech investing, a banquet dinner and an announcement of the 2013 winner of the Claire Pomeroy Award for Innovation in Medical Technology.

New this year is the entrepreneur showcase, which will feature the accomplishments of the Sacramento region's med tech companies.

The region's standing as a med tech center has received mixed reviews among business analysts, some of whom contend that 5,000 regional jobs amounts to a drop in a large bucket.

However, Ron Groepper, senior vice president with Kaiser Permanente's Sacramento Region, said SARTA's MedStart program "has become an effective driver of economic growth in the region because of its strong support of the med tech and bioscience communities that are working to make health care safer and more effective."

David Wiley, president of Sacramento-based Stratovan Corp. – specializing in interactive visual analysis software for three-dimensional imaging, diagnostics and surgical planning research – said SARTA "has been a major part (regional med tech) growth.

"SARTA has been very helpful to us, providing support and networks and connections that are important to a small med tech company."

Started in 2005, Stratovan has only four employees, but Wiley said staffing could triple in the near future.

Arnold characterized the region's med tech segment as "a seed that is starting to germinate" and said "all of these companies have the ability to scale significantly as they grow, adding jobs and revenue."

Med tech companies tend to bring in dollars from outside the region and "we need companies like these to be here and growing," she said.

For more information on SARTA and the upcoming Med Tech Showcase, see www.sarta.org.

Call The Bee's Mark Glover, (916) 321-1184.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Mark Glover



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