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VOL. 130 | NO. 172 | Thursday, September 3, 2015

Memphis to Soon Host 13th Annual Musculoskeletal Industry Conference

By Andy Meek

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Memphis is gearing up to host what will be the 13th annual Musculoskeletal New Ventures Conference, an annual confab where surgeons, venture capitalists, angel investors, industry leaders and others gather to talk shop, and more.

The day-and-a-half conference spanning Nov. 2 and Nov. 3 also is important because big industry players like Medtronic, Wright Medical, Smith & Nephew and others have typically sent business development teams to the event. That means, wandering the halls at the FedEx Institute of Technology where the event will be held, companies who’ve flown in to pitch their concepts and products are likely to run into bigger companies on the hunt for potential strategic partners.

This year, about 22 companies covering orthopedic and spine businesses – and ranging from early- to late-stage in their existence – will present at the conference. Ten to 15 speakers also will participate.

Conference hosts include the Memphis Bioworks Foundation and MB Venture Partners, a Memphis-based venture capital firm that provides equity capital and strategic direction to life sciences companies.

MB Ventures invests in medical device and biotech companies at all stages of development. The firm also is interested in product solutions for musculoskeletal diseases.


MB Ventures co-founder Gary Stevenson, along with business partner Mike Sherman, each year curate a list of companies they want to participate in the conference.

“It’s by invitation only. Nobody buys a slot,” Stevenson said. “What we’re looking for is to put together a mix. We try to find a nice balance between orthopedic companies, as distinguished from spine companies. And these are all only privately held companies.”

Following a Nov. 2 evening mixer, the conference gets under way at 7:30 a.m. Nov. 3. Most of it will take place in the space known as “The Zone” inside the FedEx Institute of Technology on the University of Memphis campus.

“If you’re a small startup company in this space, this venue gives you an opportunity to present to not only potential financial investors but also potential strategic partners, all in one venue,” Stevenson said. “And it’s usually pretty full. Typically, we’re oversubscribed for slots, getting more requests than we can fill.”

This year’s speaker list is still being compiled, but last year’s gives an indication of what to expect. A handful of speakers were collected for three panel discussions: a business development roundtable discussion; a venture capital roundtable discussion; and a presentation from MicroPort Orthopedics.

Participants and general attendees flock to the event from around the U.S. Sponsors have worked to make it the premier event for musculoskeletal entrepreneurs, scientists, investors and business development executives.

One reason that’s the case is because of the breadth of participating companies that are working on product solutions for spine, trauma, sports medicine, biologics, diagnostics and extremities, among others. Frequently, companies also choose the conference as the opportunity to “break stealth,” when they make their first conference appearance.

That’s the purpose of the event – to keep attendees on the cutting edge of what’s going on in the industry, sharing new ideas and companies with them in the process.

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