MedTech Prepares for Takeoff

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While venture investments in the medical devices sector fell 26 percent nationwide to $621 million in the three months ending Sept. 30, 2009, one local angel group is providing the industry with a bit of lift.

Wings, a nonprofit angel group established within the Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association (WBBA), held three meetings for investors in 2010, where nine companies presented their business plans. Five of the first six of them received subsequent funding either from WINGS angel investors or from other sources.

Angels are fueling innovation. In October, Dow Jones VentureSource reported that while angels—wealthy individuals putting their own money into private companies—invested more capital in 2010 than during the same period in 2009, venture capitalists invested less, especially in the health care sector.

Wings works by connecting companies with select investors who have industry expertise and contacts. Founded in May 2009, Wings is banking that, despite the recent trend, medical technology is ready to take off.

Wings’ volunteers—there are no paid staff—are all professionals with backgrounds in biotech, medical devices and biomedicine.

“They are not afraid,” says WBBA president Chris Rivera. “They’ve seen what works and have huge Rolodexes they can use.”

Interested startups begin by filling out a form on the group’s website. If promising, they are asked for further information. Detailed proposals then go to a screening committee that includes experts in regulatory approval, medical reimbursement and other areas. The three best proposals are presented to members at each meeting, says Wayne Wager, Wings’ co-chairman.

Wings may represent an emerging trend among angel groups specializing in specific market sectors. Another group, Northwest Energy Angels, for example, was recently launched to focus on clean-tech startups.

A few of the startups Wings has helped include Empowering Engineering Technologies, SRS Medical Corp., Impel NeuroPharma, Cardiac Insight and Innovative Pulmonary Solutions.

The 2016 Washington Manufacturing Awards: Legacy Award

The 2016 Washington Manufacturing Awards: Legacy Award

Winner: Belshaw Adamatic Bakery Group
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Legacy Award
Belshaw Adamatic Bakery Group
Auburn › belshaw-adamatic.com
When it’s time to make doughnuts — or loaves of bread, or sheets of rolls — it could well be a Belshaw Adamatic piece of equipment that’s turning out the baked goods. From a 120,000-square-foot plant in Auburn, Belshaw Adamatic produces the ovens, fryers, conveyors and specialty equipment like jelly injectors used by wholesale and retail bakeries.
 
The firm’s two legacy companies — Belshaw started in 1923, Adamatic in 1962 — combined forces in 2007. Italy’s Ali Group North America is the parent.
 
It it takes work to maintain a legacy. A months-long strike in 2013 damaged morale and forced a leadership change. Frank Chandler was named president and CEO of Belshaw Adamatic in September 2013. The company has since strived to mend workplace relationships while also introducing a stream of new products, such as a convection oven, the BX Eco-touch, with energy saving features and steam injection that can be programmed for precise times in baking. The company energetically describes it as “an oven that saves time, reduces errors, makes an awesome product, and is fun to use and depend on every day!”
 
So far, more than 3,000 have been installed in quick-service restaurants, bakeries, cafés and supermarkets in the United States. They are the legacy of Thomas and Walter Belshaw, former builders of marine engines, who began producing patented manual and automated doughnut-making machines in Seattle 90 years ago. They sold thousands worldwide and, today, Belshaw Adamatic is the nation’s largest maker and distributor of doughnut-making equipment.