OCTANe, the industry council responsible for promoting the innovation climate in Orange County, Calif., existed before Matthew Jenusaitis arrived, but he has put his mark on the organization’s impact on one of the world’s largest med tech clusters.
Jenusaitis’ medtech pedigree, which includes 15 years at Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX) in numerous executive marketing and general management positions, has helped the organization build 1 of the medical device world’s better meetups, the annual OCTANe Medical Device Investor Forum, slated to kick off Oct. 21 in Irvine.
The 2-day event draws a good crowd from the local medtech world, 1 of the hotbeds of innovation in the medical devices with companies like Allergan (NYSE:AGN), Edwards Lifesciences (NYSE:EW), Masimo (NSDQ:MASI) and Volcano (NSDQ:VOLC) calling the region home.
MassDevice.com, which holds its DeviceTalksWest event in Orange County every fall and counts OCTANe as a supporting partner for the event, caught up with Jenusaitis to discuss this year’s program:
MassDevice: Every year at OCTANe’s Medical Device Investor Forum you have a different theme and it seems like the last few years that theme has been change. When you were considering the theme for this conference, what were you thinking about?
Matthew Jenusaitis: What we’re looking at is the healthcare of the future. I think the 1 panel that defines most where we’re going is Healthcare 2050 and what the future of healthcare is all about.
There are 3 big, macro-economic trends that I see when it comes to the future of healthcare. One, the average age expectancy is increasing, so the population is getting older. Two, the population is getting bigger and the global population keeps growing and growing. The 3rd thing is, as a global population, we are becoming less able to pay for healthcare. It’s getting more expensive, our national debt is greater, Medicare has less money.
When you take these 3 factors and you put them all together, it’s really changing the face of what healthcare is going to look like 20 or 30 years from now.
MassDevice: Especially when you consider how much things have changed just in 5 years. On that subject, why do you think this is the proper forum for those macro-themed questions? Is it a product of your location in Southern California where big ideas seem to percolate, or is it because the medtech industry is becoming so critical to our future?
Jenusaitis: I think it’s much more of the latter. Southern California is certainly a nexus for life science technology and medical device technology. That’s just a given. As such, I think we are a good barometer for where the nation and the world are going as a whole in this particular vertical.
But if you think about healthcare, there are a bunch of huge macro-economic issues we’re dealing with. In medtech, we tend to get very caught up with the micro-economic issues that are really driving the industry – it’s an over-regulated industry, the FDA is tough, reimbursement is nearly impossible to get. I see these as micro-economic issues that are impacting healthcare. We go crazy trying to deal with all this stuff. But there are some big macro-economic issues that are going on at the same time. They’re really changing the whole landscape of healthcare.
MassDevice: I also noticed you’re bringing in some new voices to the event. You have former NFL quarterback Warren Moon, and I see a bigger hospital presence on the agenda. Was there some impetus there to bring in more voices from outside the world of medtech?
Jenusaitis: I think those underscore some of the big macro-economic issues. One of the big macro-economic issues that I’m seeing are these convergence technologies, 2previously disparate verticals that are now merging together to form a whole new industry segment.
Warren Moon’s a perfect example in that you’ve got this field of sports technology converging with life science technology. There’s research coming out that says if you play in the NFL you have a 5 times greater chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease. Everybody in the NFL is now sayin, "’We’ve got to watch out for concussions. And we’ve got to develop better concussion technology that’s going to prevent our players from having traumatic brain injury and getting Alzheimer’s disease." This is an opportunity for convergence with football helmets and some life science technology. That’s one of the big macro-economic things and I think that’s what’s driving a lot of the diversity of presenters.
Another good example is the Chopra Center is going to be doing a whole presentation about the physiological changes of meditation, of what goes on in your body. There are big impacts on blood pressure, heart rate, hormone levels, stuff like that. Ther is a convergence between Eastern medicine and Western medicine. That’s a whole other theme we’re going to bring up and we’re going to have a big group meditation with 400 or 500 people.
MassDevice: I noticed that OCTANe is evolving and launching new events for ophthalmology and aesthetics.
Jenusaitis: There are a few of these micro-innovation clusters that are really resident in Orange County, and ophthalmology has clearly been 1 of them over the past few years. But aesthetic is tremendous.
I was enthralled by the speakers at our aesthetics medicine conference. All of the components of the eco-system are present in Orange County. You’ve got the big companies, the Allergans that shift the industry, and you’ve got investment firms like Strathspey Crown and Versant Ventures, which make a lot of investments in the aesthetic field. You’ve got lots of start up technologies going on. Then you’ve got some really strong academic research centers that are doing work and you put all those things together and it shapes the industry. We try to weave these micro-verticals into the big conference we have in October.
OCTANe’s Medical Device Investor Forum starts Oct. 21 in Irvine, Calif.