Cleveland Clinic Ventures Considers Expanding its Investment Footprint

Cleveland Clinic Ventures is deploying strategic capital to accelerate the growth and development of research projects and startup companies focused on bringing to market innovative medical devices, health-care information technology, therapeutics and diagnostics emerging from the Cleveland Clinic.

At the 2019 Midwest Growth Capital Symposium in May, investors will learn more about some of the exciting medical advances and investment opportunities coming to the forefront.

“We’ve developed domain expertise around neurostimulation technology, which is being used for stroke recovery, obstructive sleep apnea and migraine headaches,” reports Jack Miner, managing director of Cleveland Clinic Ventures. “Right now, we are funding three companies in this space across a full spectrum, from seed stage to Series E round.”

Cleveland Clinic historically has been known for its biomedical-engineering research, which is housed at the Lerner Research Institute. The creation of a new Center for Therapeutics Discovery within the Institute will help to bridge the gap between translational research and clinical drug trials, and, ultimately, will accelerate discoveries to advance clinical care.

“We have some interesting technologies emerging around the management of chronic neuropathic pain by CB2 (cannabinoid receptor type 2) inhibitors,” Miner says. “Our technology has nothing to do with cannabis. Rather we’ve isolated a drug that is focused on the CB2 receptor, which reduces pain. We feel it has the potential to become an opioid alternative over the long term.”

The diagnostic space is another hotspot for research at the Cleveland Clinic, according to Miner.

“One of the most promising new discoveries is a novel blood test that is more accurate than PSA screening for identifying patients with high-risk prostate cancer,” he reports. “We believe it represents a major improvement over the current testing.” Cleveland Diagnostics, a startup launched in 2013, is working with the Cleveland Clinic to commercialize the technology.

A final area of investment interest for Cleveland Clinic Ventures centers on health-care IT. “We see many opportunities around software that supports artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality,” Miner comments. One startup is developing software that will use algorithms to predict the risk potential for cancer, coronary disease and other hereditary illnesses based on patients’ self-reported family medical histories.

One of the most significant developments that likely will impact Cleveland Clinic Ventures in 2019 is “a significant change in our investment strategy,” according to Miner.

“We are evaluating the possibility of investing in technologies that were not born within the Cleveland Clinic,” he explains. “We are hoping that in 2019, we can provide justification and get approval for moving forward with that strategy.”

Under the new broader investment criteria, likely targets would be a technology or company that is strategic to the Clinic and has a potential for generating significant financial returns. “If we feel we can add value to the company and the company can add strategic value to us, we would consider becoming a financial partner,” Miner adds.