Dayton’s Xact Medical named top 50 most-promising startup in Ohio

Dayton- & Cincinnati-based Xact Medical has been named a top 50 most-promising startup by VentureOhio.

Xact Medical was cofounded by Andy Cothrel, who teamed up with individuals in the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and CincyTech to launch the biz, which is developing point of care image-guided medical robotics. Specifically, Xact Medical’s FIND (Fast Intelligent Needle Delivery) system focuses on central vascular access — think inserting heart catheters.

Andy Cothrel, founder of Blue Marble Medical and cofounder of Xact Medical, recently named a top 50 most-promising startup in Ohio.

“It’s great to be recognized by a credible group like VentureOhio,” Cothrel said. “And the recognition isn’t in isolation.”

Xact Medical has also been recognized by the Boston Pediatric Device Consortium and the Global Cardiovascular Innovation Center.

“It all helps us build referential credibility since a lot of people aren’t familiar with vascular access or medical robotics,” Cothrel said.

A surgeon can be tied up in the operating room for hours while someone tries to thread a needle into the central veins — which is exactly what happened to Dr. Dan von Allmen, Surgeon-in-Chief at Cincinnati Children’s, Cothrel said.

The Cincinnati Children’s clinicians have a partnership with engineers Ben-Gurion University in Israel. During lunch with Hugo Guterman, described by Cothrel as the “king of autonomy,” von Allen and Guterman began to sketch an idea on a napkin — an automated needle guided via ultrasound.

Xact Medical was founded in two years ago in September 2016. Founders anticipate animal studies starting next month. Work is underway to assemble a next-generation prototype that can be mass-produced using molds, versus the rapid prototyping-style production underway now as the team prints parts needed to update the device design, Cothrel said.

Animal studies will run a few months, until the tests are producing consistent results. Then there will be one more engineering round and a second round of animal studies. After a final round of testing with human volunteers, the company will submit the device to the FDA for class two clearance. The outlook on clearance is favorable, Cothrel said.

Cothrel is also the founder of Blue Marble Medical, where he consults on medtech. At any given time, he is working with about half a dozen medtech startups and Fortune 50 companies.

Xact Medical is the third startup he has worked with that has taken off. The first company, Indiana-based SonarMed, developed a system to monitor the status of a breathing tube — another device that proved particularly important in the care of babies.

“I do like working on pediatric devices,” Cothrel said. “It offers a certain psychological satisfaction.”

Cothrel is an active supporter and advocate of Dayton’s entrepreneurial & startup community. The last three years have seen great improvements, he said.

“I get particularly excited where I see healthcare and tech colliding,” he said. “That draws on two strengths in the Dayton community.”

VentureOhio aims to improve access to capital and foster collaboration in the startup community. The 50 most-promising startups were selected by a panel including VentureOhio board members and more than 20 venture capitalists, angel investors and technologists.

Xact Medical is the only Dayton company to make this year’s list.

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