In the 50 years since Dr. Tom Fogarty invented the catheter-based treatment for blood clots that’s now the standard of care, he’s founded more than 30 medical device startups, placing him among the most prolific inventors in the biomedical space.
Forgarty is also, without a doubt, the industry’s best quote.
"Venture is dead and they don’t know it," he told a crowd of medtech execs in Boston Friday. "But they’re starting to stink."
Fogarty, the keynote speaker at MassMEDIC’s Medtech Showcase, spoke at length about the lack of early-stage funding for medical devices and the hurdles that continue to mount for the companies he’s dedicated a career to fostering. Fogarty is the chairman of the Fogarty Institute for Innovation in Mountain View, Calif., a not-for-profit established in 2007 that has more than 13 emerging medtech companies enrolled in its mentoring program.
At 80, Fogarty clearly still has fire in his belly, especially when it comes to the environment for funding for early-stage companies. He scoffed when asked whether VC is making a comeback after some lean years.
"They all say they are, but they’re not," he said. "It’s all bullshit."
Fogarty was equally skeptical of strategic corporate investment.
"[Corporate VC] is not the benefit I thought it was going to be," he said. "Corporates are just like VCs, in that they act like they know how to do everything."
Most big companies don’t want to make investments in spaces where they’re already represented because it’s an admission of failure for their internal R&D groups, Forgarty added. Medtech entrepreneurs shouldn’t ask companies for what they want, but tell them what they need, he said.
"I’m more concerned than not concerned," he said. "I’m seriously concerned there will be less opportunity for commercializing [early-stage medtech]."