“BioEnterprise is at the beck and call of the entrepreneur. They have always been there when we’ve needed them, especially for advocacy, market validation, networking, public relations and sales.”
Geoffrey B. Thrope is Founder, Managing Director and Chairman of NDI. The enterprise pursues, funds and develops neurodevice opportunities addressing unmet clinical needs, with the potential to provide significant returns to its investors.
In 2008, NDI sold its first portfolio company to Medtronic Inc. for $42 million. Its current portfolio companies include Checkpoint Surgical, Deep Brain Innovations, and SPR Therapeutics.
NDI was initially founded in 2002 by Geoff Thrope and Dr. Warren Grill to commercialize Grill’s research on treating urinary incontinence using electrical stimulation. Six years later, the $42 million sale of their first portfolio company to Medtronic motivated the founders and their team to replicate that success.
“The sale was unusually transformative to our group of individuals who had come together courageously and naively and created a great product and also generated success,” said Thrope. “And we were not done, so we said let’s do this again!”
Due to the financial crisis and recession of 2008-2009, traditional financing sources such as venture capital had dried up, so Thrope and his partners decided to form the NDI Healthcare Venture Fund.
“We had a great team, core intellectual property, and seed financing from a group of us,” said Thrope, “so we morphed NDI into an enterprise concept, fully invested our fund into core technologies, and then these translated themselves into portfolio companies.” Thrope also successfully secured non-dilutive funding from federal and state grants to support the company.
By 2010 they spun out two companies: Checkpoint Surgical, to market the CHECKPOINT® Nerve Stimulator/Locator, its first FDA-cleared product in a line of unique surgical devices to locate, identify, and test excitability of nerves and muscles in surgical procedures; and SPR Therapeutics to develop a novel peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) therapy platform for minimally invasive, long lasting, and cost effective pain treatments across an array of painful neuropathic and orthopedic conditions.
In 2012, NDI launched Deep Brain Innovations to commercialize a proprietary method for optimizing deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapy through novel patterns of stimulation.
All three ventures are quite diversified, with cultures, missions and exit opportunities that are entirely independent from each other. Yet, according to Thrope each portfolio company has been built to satisfy unmet clinical needs with unique disruptive technology that could potentially change the manner in which medicine is practiced. The ultimate goal is to have these companies acquired by corporate strategics and bring a high return on investment to its shareholders.
Prior to forming NDI, Thrope conducted research at Case Western Reserve University and led commercial product development, sales and marketing in the neurodevice industry.
Eventually Thrope became dissatisfied with his role of just positioning companies and products like “a tugboat helping a ship get out to sea,” so he jumped off and became the captain of his own ship by starting NDI. “I put my life savings into this, putting my family potentially at risk,” said Thrope. “But with much hard work, great talent, and luck, it fortunately worked out for the benefit of all.”