LifeScience Alley, the Minneapolis-based trade association of medical device and life science companies, has chosen a new board chair and made other changes to its board of directors.
The association announced today that Robert Kieval, executive vice president & chief technology officer of CVRx Inc., which manufactures an implantable device to treat high blood pressure and heart failure, has been named chairman. Rachel Ellingson, vice president of global communications for St. Jude Medical (NYSE:STJ), and president of the St. Jude Medical Foundation, was elected to serve as vice-chair.
LifeScience Alley president & CEO Shaye Mandle told MassDevice.com that the board changes will help his organization continue to represent and serve the companies that make up the medtech community in Minnesota, sometimes called the Medical Alley.
“We are very excited to have well-respected community and thought leaders like Rob and Rachel leading the board of directors,” Mandle said. “Their valuable insights, in concert with those of the other board members, will be critical to LifeScience Alley’s efforts to elevate the global impact of Minnesota’s Medical Alley.”
Kieval succeeds outgoing board chair Stephen Snyder, president & COO of St. Renatus, after a 2-year term.
LifeScience Alley has a unique position among stakeholders in the medtech and life science fields, Kieval told us.
“Healthcare is evolving, it’s a complex environment,” he said. “We have an opportunity to provide intelligence and thought leadership to help inform the conversations that are shaping health care.”
The association recently released a report showing strong growth in investment for Minnesota’s medical device manufacturing, health information technology, and other life science-related companies. Some of that is tied to an improving economy, officials said at the time. Kieval said that even though investment is picking up, funding, especially for early-stage companies, can be difficult.
“There are regulatory challenges, reimbursement challenges, legislative challenges” he told us. “That makes it difficult for health technology companies to garner financing.”
Kieval says his group hopes to expand its role in providing information on regulatory and investment developments to companies.
“Having access to relevant, up-to-date, accurate information about what deals are getting done, what is the state of the investment climate – those pieces of information are critical,” he said. “That’s why the intelligence reporting that LifeScience Alley is trying to provide is going to be seen as highly valuable. “
Although LifeScience Alley aims to serve as a national resource, Mandle added, its primary mission remains tied to the Minnesota life science community.
“We are about representing the health and welfare of Minnesota’s Medical Alley,” he said. “Having said that, we believe if you look at our environment, you see expertise across all of the sectors that impact the future of health care. There isn’t an environment like that anywhere else in the United States.”
In addition to Kieval and Ellingson, LifeScience Alley said Kevin Smith, partner at KPMG, and Steven Mertens, senior vice president of operations for Holaira, have been re-elected to serve as treasurer and secretary, respectively.
Jeff Mirviss, president of peripheral interventions for Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX) and Joseph Galatowitsch, president & managing partner of Dymedex Consulting, were also named as board members; Tim Frischmon, principal of Furst Group,, was re-elected to LifeScience Alley’s executive committee.