Mayo visit might lead to a "connection"Steve Van Nurden makes no bones about the fact he knows more about Boston's options for medical manufacturing than any Minnesota community's options.
By: Anne Jacobson, The Republican Eagle
Steve Van Nurden makes no bones about the fact he knows more about Boston's options for medical manufacturing than any Minnesota community's options.
The chairman of Mayo Foundation's Office of Intellectual Property travels the country and world looking for companies to make Mayo Clinic's innovative products and devices. His quest recently took him to Ireland and, on Monday, 40 miles up the road to Red Wing.
"I learned that I don't need to go that far to see world-class manufacturers," he said after spending the afternoon touring a few of this area's 47 manufacturing facilities.
The Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce invited Van Nurder and his colleague Andy Danielson to tour Neufeldt Industrial, Red Wing Shoe Co., Automated Equipment and SCS - Stencil Cutting Supply.
One of the best parts of the visit, the men said, was seeing plants that don't focus on medical devices.
"We were like kids in a candy store," Van Nurden said, adding that he makes a point to attend at least one non-medical convention a year to learn how other industries use technology.
The Red Wing visit put them right in the factories.
"The ability for us to see those things spurs innovation," he said. "A lot of innovation in medicine has come from other industries."
Inventors don't like to hear it, he said, but the idea is often the easiest part of any breakthrough or advancement. In fact, Mayo Foundation's Office of Intellectual Property takes out 300 patents a year and gets a new idea or two every day.
The difficulties are money, management and marketing, according to Van Nurden. The East Coast is way ahead when it comes to venture capital, which is why he knows so much more about Boston and Minnesota manufacturers.
"Early stage funding is really lacking in this part of the country," he said. Red Wing clearly has innovators and risk-takers among its manufacturers. One area where virtually every Midwest community must improve, he added, is financing - lots of it.
"It's risky," he said.
Patty Brown and Jan Graner of the Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce's Business Resource Committee scheduled Monday's visit to connect Mayo with local manufacturers who might produce the medical products Mayo is creating for patents. They are hopeful something will come of the visit.
Van Nurden agreed. "What we'd like to do is find one connection - and that leads to bigger things."