Mayo Clinic Merges Venture Capital, Licensing, Biz Development Operations

New unit will provide corporate, government partners with simplified path.

Accelerating the push to translate its medical research into improved patient care as well as new commercial revenue streams, Mayo Clinic has consolidated the functions of two previously separate units focused on health care business innovation.
Under the new arrangement unveiled this month, Mayo Clinic Ventures—the clinic’s hub for research commercialization and licensing—is combining with the recently expanded Office of Business Development to form a new dedicated entity known as the Department of Business Development. 

Mayo leaders say the reorganization is meant to tie together the strands of its increasingly complex and quickly growing connections to outside entities in advancing the mission of moving medical know-how generated by its researchers into clinical settings and the marketplace.
It also comes at a time when those same themes are being emphasized as a key component of the Destination Medical Center initiative to make Rochester “the world’s premier destination for health and wellness.”
The new unit is chaired by former MCV leader James Rogers, with recently hired former Medtronic executive Lawrence Cho serving as vice chairman. Both report to Chief Administrative Officer Jeff Bolton. The unit’s medical director is Dr. Clark Otley, chairman of Mayo’s Department of Dermatology.
In an interview with TCB, Rogers and Cho said the new arrangement will give an expanding cast of outside entities such as companies, venture funds, institutions and the government “one door” to go through when seeking to partner up with the clinic’s formidable research capabilities.
“We’ve always had what’s called the Office of Business Development, which covered strategic corporate development, and we had Mayo Clinic Ventures, which did licensing and venture investing,” Rogers said. “Through the foresight of our leadership and our trustees, we said, ‘Let’s think about a combined department, call it the Department of Business Development.’
“This way, we can still have the Mayo Clinic Ventures name, but it would be combined with a unit that could do everything from soup to nuts: startups, licensing, joint ventures, partnerships, collaborations, venture investing, acquisitions.”
Thus melded, he added, “we can look at every opportunity that comes along and try to figure out the best vehicle to try to make it happen. The ultimate goal is to get the best ideas, the best therapies to our patients as soon as possible.”
Cho, meanwhile, brings the perspective of one of those outside entities to the table as the new point man for Mayo’s corporate business development strategy. He held a similar strategic role at Medtronic, and before that with health care industry consultants McKinsey & Co. Now, he says, that experience will help guide how the clinic interacts with business partners.
“Bringing MCV and the business development office together really does two things,” he said. “One, it makes it more efficient for outside folks who want to work with us to come in one door. Previously, when you had multiple doors, you may come in one of them, but the hand-offs wouldn’t be there.”
Secondly, the reorganization will help break down what he called the “insular realm” of providers whose attitude frequently was, “’We like to do what we do, and that’s it, this is the way it’s done.’
“With the mounting pressures from all sides—as government regulations change, as payers consolidate, as providers consolidate—there’s more pressure on us to find new and better ways to continue to practice medicine and deliver care so that the needs of the patients are met.
“That’s what I’ve been seeing from other perspectives and angles. We’ve seen a lot of movement in the last five to 10 years, and for me, it’s really a way to get in on the ground level and be able to put some of those of things together.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, Cho said two main focus areas for business development going forward will be individualized medicine and regenerative medicine, two arenas where Mayo has world-leading research capabilities and has already established promising commercialization ties.
Another focus, he added, will be to grow Mayo’s for-profit lab services subsidiary, Mayo Medical Laboratories, as well as expanding its efforts in “connected care,” otherwise known as telemedicine, where Mayo is currently offering its services to dozens of hospitals around the country.