Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Behind the scenes with the President of Minnesota’s marvel – Medical Alley


Mike Lagerquist talks to the President and CEO of Medical Alley Association, Minnesota’s medical powerhouse


Medical Alley Association (MAA) of Golden Valley, Minnesota, serves as the collective voice and expertise of Medical Alley. Its mission being to ‘champion and facilitate an environment that enables health technology and care organizations to innovate, succeed, and influence the evolution of healthcare’. Its members include organizations that have defined healthcare such as the Mayo Clinic, Medtronic, 3M Healthcare, UnitedHealth Group, Boston Scientific, Smiths Medical and Abbott.

Shaye Mandle has served as President and CEO of MAA since May 2014. During this tenure, the Association has undertaken significant transformation to focus on championing and facilitating an environment that enables health technology and care organizations to innovate, succeed, and influence the evolution of healthcare. He has more than 20 years of experience in government, the private sector and academia, leading organizations, public affairs and political activities. From 2011 to 2014, Mandle served as the Association’s EVP & COO and its VP of Government and Affiliate Relations.

Mike Lagerquist: Please tell us about the accomplishments of Medical Alley Association since 1984.

Shaye Mandle: Overall, the Medical Alley community has distinguished itself over this time as the global epicentre of health innovation and care. In 2015, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History opened a permanent exhibit on the six great American ‘Places of Invention’. Medical Alley was honoured for health innovation, alongside Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and three others.

Today, Medical Alley represents the world’s top cluster for health technology innovation. Minnesota ranks first in healthcare performance in the United States, we’re home to the nation’s highest ranked hospital, Mayo Clinic, and the largest US health insurer, UnitedHealth Group. With investments in Medical Alley digital health companies up more than 540 per cent over the past five years, we are leading the digital health revolution.

What are your primary targets and goals in the short- and long-term? In what ways does the changing face of health care insurance legislation affect these goals and reaching targets?

In the short term, we’re focused on bringing leaders from all health sectors to the table to discuss the future of healthcare. We are breaking down traditional silos, and opening up new relationships and dialogues to evaluate opportunities to influence the changing face of healthcare. National healthcare insurance policy, value-based payment models, and digital health solutions are priority areas of concentration.

In the longer term, we’re focused on the transformation of Medical Alley. As the birthplace of the Mayo Clinic, the modern medical device industry, and HMOs, we have a history of health leadership. We’re currently working on plans for Medical Alley’s future and defining what that leadership needs to look like over the next decade.

Finally, we are committing to broader engagement and a focus on delivering the message that Medical Alley is the global leader of health innovation and care.

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At the Medtech Conference in Minneapolis earlier this year, many speakers mentioned two primary areas of concern: reimbursement for research and development, and speeding the process of getting safe products through approval and to market. How has the Medical Alley Association been working to assist with these areas of concern?

MAA has been a key player in supporting regulatory and reimbursement reforms. In working with MAA, the Minnesota congressional delegation has been the primary driver responsible for the suspension of the medical device tax. MAA was the original creator of the Medical Device Innovation Consortium (MDIC), with a focus on regulatory science and approval time improvements. MDIC now has responsibility for the NEST Coordinating Center with a grant from the FDA.

On the reimbursement front, MAA is actively engaged in collecting information and working with policymakers on issues affecting our members. We have provided content and events for our members with reimbursement experts and are excited that Mike Guyette, the President and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, now sits on the MAA Board of Directors. Medical Alley sees increasing opportunities to bring leadership to this dialogue, from the reimbursement shifts to new payment models to ensuring access – both for new technologies to impact the system and for health consumers to expect better outcomes and a more individualised experience.

Please tell us about the key items in your midyear report. How do these result confirm or alter future plans? How did MAA assist in reaching these accomplishments?


Shaye Mandle

The Medical Alley Midyear Report demonstrates the strength of our region, with a record amount of capital raised by early stage companies. This report confirms that healthcare continues to be the biggest growth market around the world, and that the expertise that exists here is a magnet for capital. While Medical Alley has always been the top region for medical devices, we’re seeing big growth in other sectors. Investments in Medical Alley diagnostics and biopharmaceutical companies nearly doubled, while digital health investments continue to explode. With a strong Q3, MAA has already raised more capital this year than in any full previous year ($520 million and counting).

These trends have a significant impact on our future plans; it highlights an ever-increasing change from traditional health sectors to more overlap and convergence. Where in the past, we may have focused on separate distinct technical offerings for our members from different sectors, today we are focused on ‘connecting the dots’ across the healthcare marketplace. We’re working to make sure that the infrastructure and talent to fuel the growth of many sectors, while connecting them all, is in place over the next decade.

Within this report are many success stories in which MMA played a key role. We’ve made connections that led to investments and have seen policy changes that we championed (Angel Investment Tax Credit) be a key driver in many cases. We’ve made connections that delivered the necessary expertise to get an FDA approval or a reimbursement code. MAA operates under strict confidentiality with our members, so I cannot disclose any specifics.

With an MAA Board that includes representation from almost every sector and a community with national leadership from every sector, Medical Alley has a unique opportunity to provide leadership and solutions. We’ll be working with our legislators and the broader community to empower this comprehensive dialogue and to pursue real solutions to this crisis.

About the author

Mike Lagerquist is a US-based writer, editor and communications professional.

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