For US medical device developer Lexington Medical, there is no place like home. In December the 10-person healthcare innovator specialising in abdominal surgical devices celebrated the opening of a 750-square-metre headquarters in Billerica, a town of 40,000 in the north-eastern corner of Massachusetts, roughly one hour outside of Boston.

Founded by medical device industry veterans with experience in both S&P 500 companies as well as tech start-ups, Lexington Medical’s expansion highlights its optimism about the future of the medical device industry in the state and the wealth of expertise in their immediate vicinity.

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Fulfilling a mission

“We founded Lexington Medical to tackle the ever-growing costs of healthcare in the US, especially for medical devices,” says Leon Amariglio, the company’s founder and CEO. “We are excited to be moving to larger space that provides us the ability to substantially grow our company and fulfil our mission.”

The opening ceremony was shared with executives from the Massachusetts Life Science Center (MLSC), an investment agency supporting R&D and commercialisation in life sciences.

“Lexington Medical is yet another great example of a locally incubated company that is finding in Massachusetts all the resources that it needs to innovate and grow,” says Travis McCready, president and CEO of the MLSC. These resources include funding for developing emerging talent through the MLSC’s internship programme, just one aspect of a 10-year $1bn Massachusetts life sciences initiative that was enacted by the state in 2008. The MLSC funds all industry sectors, including biotech, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, diagnostics and bioinformatics. 

Already a global leader in life sciences, thanks in part to world-renowned universities such as Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the state is also home to facilities for 17 of the world’s top 20 biopharmaceutical firms, as well as more than 500 other biopharma companies and more than 400 medical device makers.

The state has effectively fostered public-private collaboration to leverage tax dollars, directly investing more than $615m and leveraging over $2bn in third-party investment to grow the state’s life sciences ecosystem.

Spin-out companies

This ecosystem is constantly expanding with the help of its many incubators and innovation acceleration facilities, which include the Tufts Biotechnology Transfer Center, Mass Innovation Labs, Cambridge BioLabs and the UMass Boston Venture Development Center. Massachusetts leads the US in spin-out companies from universities and non-profits.

Investment in the industry has been driven by a strategy whereby large companies are attracted to the region based on the presence of innovative, small early-stage companies that they can acquire, partner with or license technologies from.

The MLSC’s investments in early-stage companies have been cited as a critical factor in its success attracting major global companies to expand and invest in Massachusetts. As an important investment partner for smaller life sciences firms, providing them with funds for translational R&D, the MLSC helps keep them in the state rather than chasing investment funds in other regions.  

Lexington’s expansion offers insight into a lucrative and rapidly growing industry in the US and in Massachusetts, and is evidence of the confidence in this industry – over the past five years, exports from Massachusetts’s medical device industry have grown at twice the rate of all the other sectors in the state combined.

And the state is the country’s second largest employer of people in the medical device industry, following only California, according to the Massachusetts Medical Device Industry Council (MassMedic). Tom Sommer, MassMedic president, says: “The medical device industry in our state contributes significant jobs to our economy, while bringing new technologies to the market that are helping patients here and throughout the world.”