By GREGORY ZELLER //
They’ve been to bigger shows, but for partners Christopher and Gregory Montalbano – the road warriors of Long Island medical-product innovation – this was as good as it gets.
Forget, for a moment, whatever you know about New York-Boston enmities. The Northeast archrivals may disagree on everything from sports teams to clam chowders, but when it comes to medical innovation, they’re kindred spirits – especially with Long Island emerging as a serious biotechnology corridor.
The Island’s med-tech chops took a quantum leap forward exactly one year ago last month, when the Montalbanos – partners at MIDI Medical Product Development – opened their state-of-the-art Innovation Center, a humming hub of next-level design and hard-core testing. Since then, the brothers have hit the road relentlessly, spreading the word about the Smithtown center and MIDI’s other development-related services at some of the nation’s busiest medical-product conferences and showcases.
They’ve been to the really big ones, including Medical Device & Manufacturing West, a February convention that attracted some 20,000 engineers and investors to California. And there are more major-league conferences on the horizon, including next month’s MD&M East, a three-day tech-a-thon at Manhattan’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, where Christopher is slotted as one of the keynote speakers, addressing “medical value engineering and development.”
But last week, it was Beantown, for BIOMEDevice Boston. Self-promoted as “New England’s largest med-tech event,” MD&M’s annual Boston showcase is a sort of little brother to the others – it attracts closer to 4,000 engineers and execs – but it’s smack dab in the Goldilocks Zone for the brothers Montalbano: just right.
“This particular show is much more intimate,” Gregory Montalbano told Innovate LI. “It is extremely focused, relative to innovation, emerging sensor technologies and the healthcare Internet of Things, and how to incorporate them into medical-product development and life-sciences projects.
“And because it’s smaller, you’re able to get a lot more facetime with industry leaders.”
And that’s the rub for these enterprising innovators, who see Boston’s bubbling biotech corridor as fertile hunting grounds. They might have met fewer med-tech entrepreneurs or executives from larger healthcare conglomerates than they met in Anaheim or will meet in Manhattan, but the Boston show helped MIDI establish a foothold in one of the hottest biotechnology corridors in all the land.
“It’s definitely [a smaller show],” Gregory noted. “But having a booth at this show and mixing it up with that region’s med-tech leaders was definitely worthwhile.
“We have some clients in Boston, but we would like more,” he added. “That area is saturated with med-tech, and there’s plenty of innovation and development opportunities to go around. As we create more space for ourselves in this industry, we definitely want to expand our base in Boston, and really capitalize on all the innovation happening there.”
That said, the Montalbanos are New Yorkers, born and raised on Long Island, and the heart of their burgeoning product-development empire is here.
The brothers are thrilled to occupy advisory board seats at the Long Island Bioscience Hub – the science syndicate featuring Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Stony Brook University’s Center for Biotechnology and Northwell Health’s Feinstein Institute for Medical Research – and to serve as “biomedical accelerator advisors” for the Columbia-Coulter research partnership.
And they will definitely enjoy a home-field advantage in June, when the MD&M traveling show makes its annual stop at the Javits Center.
“Our vision, our ultimate goal, is to move med-tech forward in the New York area,” Gregory noted. “That doesn’t mean we’re not looking at Boston or Silicon Valley, because we are. Growth and expansion are always our goals. But equally important to us is expanding our capabilities specifically in Greater New York.”
That was the thrust behind the opening of the 6,500-square-foot Innovation Center in Smithtown’s Village of the Branch, which over its first 12 months has attracted several “high-end collaborative projects,” according to Gregory. Confidentiality clauses prevent the MIDI principals from discussing virtually all of the goings-on inside their prototyping facility, though sometimes they can barely contain their excitement.
“There are many highly confidential programs involving Internet of Things, electro-stimulation and advanced diagnostic equipment utilizing technologies that have never been used in this industry before,” Gregory gushed. “Ultimately, some of these products are going to seriously disrupt diagnostic testing relative to cost reductions and the speed of end results.
“The center has really facilitated the next chapter of our own development.”
And the pages only turn faster through the MD&M events, even the smaller ones, which not only provide networking opportunities that could drum up new product-development business but give MIDI’s minders plenty of chances to help academia build med-tech momentum – while keeping them abreast of the latest developments in advanced sensors, patient-compliance software and med-tech’s various back-end channels.
“It’s a combination of all these things,” Gregory said. “When we attend these shows, I definitely know we’re on the right path, but there’s always something new to learn, always a new application related to software or embedded systems or new user interfaces, something that moves the industry forward.
“There’s always something that can help generate better results, which is basically to make people healthier,” he added. “The day you stop learning is the day you retire from the industry.”