Do you ever drive around town and see a sign for a business or something else and ask yourself, “I wonder what they do there?” Some businesses are pretty obvious, Sunoco Gas, CVS – got it. Cambridge Savings Bank – got it. But what about some of the others? Our mission is to answer the question – What do they do there anyway?
Next up – Vivonics – 175 Great Road.
Across the street from the entrance to the Whole Foods shopping center, in the building with TD Bank, there are several small businesses. One of them is Vivonics, which always had me curious. They are also listed on the Mass BioTech list and are members of the Massachusetts Medical Device Industry Council (MassMEDIC).
So what’s a BioTech company doing in a small building on the Great Road?
They are an interesting company that is not easy to define. They are a medical devices company but they don’t currently produce medical devices. Unlike many companies, where, when you have an idea, you go out and seek funding, then you go about starting a company and produce your idea, Vivonics does it differently. They have a staff of medical device engineers and scientists who look for unmet medical needs, conceptualize solutions, and find opportunities to develop these solutions by way of government grants and contracts. They then apply for that funding from the NIH (National Institutes of Health) and the US military. Once they get an award, they develop the solution they conceived and evaluate how well it meets the unmet need (a little over-simplified, but basically it). When you look at what they are working on you see a military slant on some of their work. Many items in their portfolio can be used in battlefield medical situations; another design is for making prosthetics more comfortable.
Their portfolio of projects includes a variety of things: Advanced Prosthesis, Combat Casualty Care, Contactless Monitoring, Diabetic Neuropathy Care, Digital Health, Physiological Monitoring, Surgical Solutions, Transdermal Neurological Stimulation, Targeted Temperature Management, Traumatic Brain Injury, and other technologies
Here’s what their mission statement says:
Our mission is to improve human health and performance outside traditional health care settings by developing innovative mobile physiological monitoring, advanced diagnostics, and clinical decision support technologies.
Vivonics comprises a core group of engineers and scientists. specializing in a wide range of disciplines including biomedical, mechanical, electrical, and software engineering. Our team is strengthened by a network of world-class clinical and academic collaborators.
Currently, Vivonics has 12 employees at their headquarters with at least three open positions listed on their website and plans to hire several interns over the next year. They recently added a fabrication space within the same building to create prototypes for clinical testing of their inventions. They are working with academic, clinical, and corporate collaborators and have built relationships with other medical device companies that have already licensed some of their technology.
I had a nice chat with Gordon Hirschman, the CEO and President of Vivonics. He told me Vivonics is a spin-off from Infoscitex in Waltham in 2012. About two years after they formed the company they moved it to Sudbury, which Hirschman says was a little too rural for his liking. They moved to Bedford in 2018 and are very happy with their location. Hirschman says he loves being across the street from Whole Foods and all the restaurants in that plaza; employees often just walk across the street, grab some lunch, and sit at the picnic tables. He said they chose Bedford mostly for its location. Vivonics has employees who come from Boston as well as from out in the I-495 area. They have been very happy since they moved here.
Hirschman says they were relatively unaffected by the pandemic, except for delays in clinical testing of their devices due to the shutdown of most research at hospitals. He added that a lot of what they do involves remote medical monitoring and support for care outside the hospital. “The pandemic if anything shined a spotlight on what can be done remotely, which is a big part of what we’re interested in.”
Vivonics is an interesting small medical technology company, joining the growing number of such companies making Bedford their home.