Musculoskeletal New Ventures Conference Success Continues to Grow

Early in October, the 4th annual Musculoskeletal New Ventures Conference was held in Memphis. What a remarkable event this has become in such a short period of time. It has developed into a platform for Memphis biosciences, a valuable sourcing and networking tool for venture capitalists, and a one-of-a-kind showcase for the latest developments from industry giants and entrepreneurs alike.


The Memphis Bioworks™ Foundation co-founded this conference with MB Ventures Partners and the Memphis Regional Chamber of Commerce in 2003. Bob Compton, an entrepreneur and former president of Sofamor Danek, was the visionary who came up with this idea and the Conference’s first host. He established the concept to provide a forum for exchanging ideas between surgeons, venture capitalists, industry leaders, researchers and entrepreneurs. That exchange would promote industry growth to the benefit of everyone suffering from musculoskeletal conditions. Since then, the Conference has expanded under the leadership of Gary Stevenson, managing partner of MB Ventures, who has served as host since 2004. Along the way, Memphis has obtained excellent recognition, building upon the city’s existing leadership position in medical devices and orthopedics.

Four conferences later, there is no doubt we are achieving our goals. There were many highlights at this year’s event. To get a feel for all that took place; I would suggest a visit to the conference Web site at www.mnvc.org, but for now, I want to focus on two things.

First, as planned, this conference is doing a remarkable job of exposing new thinking to venture capitalists. The event was attended by nearly 50 VCs, representing more than $10 billion of venture capital. This attendance makes it the largest gathering in the world of entrepreneurs and venture capital investors who target the musculoskeletal industry. That kind of audience, representing that kind of financial opportunity makes this a major national, even international, gathering. The VCs come because they know they will hear the latest thoughts and see the most progressive ideas from Memphis’ industry giants, Smith and Nephew and Medtronic. They also expect to discover new ideas, new companies and new opportunities.

A second major highlight for me this year was Wright Medical. Gary Henley, president and CEO of Wright since April, is leading a rebirth and rededication to excellence within this Memphis-based (Arlington, TN) business. This conference provided an excellent platform for Gary to demonstrate his leadership and to show the industry why we need to pay attention to what is happening at Wright Medical. From their core business of medical devices to their growing importance in biologics, this is a company to watch. What a perfect place for a hometown company to shine – at a homegrown international event.

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