Five Questions with Heather Walsh

Published on July 8, 2021

Get Insight into the Direction of the MedTech Industry. As part of our series “Five Questions with,” Heather Walsh, Executive Director, MedTech Cohort, mHUB Accelerator Program

Get Insight into the Direction of the MedTech Industry.

As part of our series “Five Questions with,” Heather Walsh, Executive Director, MedTech Cohort, mHUB Accelerator Program, discusses what led her to mHUB and what MedTech industry trends have accelerated since the COVID-19 pandemic.

You’ve spent your career in both the medical and technology fields from Baxter to the University of Chicago. What’s inspired you about the changing MedTech Industry landscape? 

MedTech is so exciting right now as it evolves to support more personalized therapy for patients. Sensor technologies, patient monitoring, and diagnostics are enabling early diagnosis and intervention, remote care opportunities, and directed therapy for more successful outcomes. These technologies are also empowering patients to be able to better understand chronic diseases and take more control over their care while at the same time the devices that treat their conditions more closely pinpoint the mechanisms behind the pathology.

What are the key industry verticals primed for innovation in MedTech? 

Patient sensing and monitoring for the diagnosis and management of both acute and chronic conditions is a large area of interest. We are also looking at technologies that improve remote patient care and those that reduce infection in the hospital. On the therapy side, we are looking for connected therapeutic devices, improved methods of drug delivery, surgical solutions, water filtration technologies for medical use.

What are some of the tech trends you’ve seen accelerate due to the pandemic? For example, the decentralization of healthcare and in-home solutions? 

The trend for care outside of the hospital necessarily accelerated due to hospitals being overwhelmed by very sick patients. Telehealth and treatment of patients in the home has grown and adapted and found new ways to work as people have become comfortable with the technology and the tools have evolved.

What led you to join mHUB to lead the MedTech cohort of mHUB’s Accelerator Program and what makes this accelerator different than others that you’ve worked with? 

I was first excited by the Accelerator because, as a native Chicagoan who has been involved in research and innovation for many years, I liked the idea to recruit early-stage startups to the city that are aligned with our capabilities and expertise. The accelerator fills a gap in driving the commercialization of hardtech technologies and focusing efforts on the development of physical products. Bringing these companies to Chicago will allow them to leverage the vast resources that this city has built over the years, that mHUB has concentrated and brought together, and will add to the amazing growth we are seeing in the ecosystem right now.

What excites you about joining the broader innovation community, including corporate partners Baxter and Edward-Elmhurst VC? 

The corporate partners on this cohort are uniquely set up to ensure demand-driven innovation by providing that perspective from the marketplace and customers that entrepreneurs so desperately need. Coming from Baxter myself, I have seen firsthand the deep expertise on their R&D team and their commitment to impacting patient care which will guide the startups in the right direction. Edward-Elmhurst VC is in a position to understand needs directly from users, customers, clinicians, and patients. They know what would drive value for their community and can even provide opportunities to test these products in real settings.

As we start to recruit mentors, I have been overwhelmed with the generosity of the community and their enthusiasm for this program. Everyone I have been talking to has seen the unique opportunity this accelerator program provides and so we have been able to build on mHUB’s already large network to add mentors with more specific experience in MedTech to support the teams. I’m so grateful and excited to work with everyone that is involved in this program.

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