Local HealthTech startups shine

By Anna Lardinois, Startup Storyteller

Will the next big thing in healthcare be created in Milwaukee?

Local innovators are counting on it.

Area academic research institutions have united to advance the development of drugs, devices, HealthTech software and new clinical delivery approaches that address unmet medical needs.

The Medical College of Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Concordia University Wisconsin, Marquette University, Blood Research Institute /Versiti and Milwaukee School of Engineering have formed a regional alliance known as the Accelerating Medical Product Development initiative.

The mission of the initiative is to “ignite and foster collaborative healthcare innovation and commercialization in southeast Wisconsin, leveraging regional resources, to improve human health through clinical use of innovative biomedical research and discoveries.”

Under the umbrella of the Clinical & Translations Science Institute, the program receives funding from Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation the National Institutes of Health.

The organizations, along with Bridge to Cures, MKE Tech Hub Coalition, and HealthTechMKE hosted a Healthcare Innovation Pitch event during MKE Tech Week 2022.

The event provided an opportunity for developing, pre-revenue startups to showcase emerging technologies to a host of industry experts, along with the possibility of winning up to $25,000 in non-dilutive capital.

Early-stage startup, Pagerr, cofounded by Milwaukeeans Joe Alioto and Shaun Bogan, along with Dr. Joseph J. Alioto, MD of Illinois, was among the five teams vying in the HealthTech Track. The pair are developing a Software as a Service solution for medical facilities to find anesthesiologists to fill open shifts in surgical calendars.

“I thought that the event was probably one of the most impactful events that I’ve seen for really early-stage startups, and especially industry specific in the city of Milwaukee. I was super impressed,” Alioto said.

Alioto, who has been involved in a number of Milwaukee startups, including GenoPalate and Vaia, presented Pagerr to judges Kelly Stevenson of Inception Health, Richelle Martin, founder of Winnow Fund and Don Melnikoff, president of Biocut Systems.

“It was really helpful to understand what it was that they were focusing on, and where they wanted to drill in, because it told me that I have a hole in my communication. I need to make sure that I’m effectively communicating to hospital execs who have 30 seconds to pay attention to me because they have to run a hospital,” Alioto said of the judges’ questions following his presentation.

Ultimately, Madison-based RedFox AI won the event, but many left the presentation room talking about the before-unknown startup and its potential to alleviate staffing challenges in healthcare.

The company plans to have a beta version of its product by the end of 2022. But the company already has a foot in the door with its initial market.

Alioto revealed that his partner, Dr. Alioto, is a “practicing anesthesiologist in the city of Chicago who actually has an anesthesiology staffing firm. He’s been staffing hospitals in the city of Chicago and their anesthesiology practices for the past 12 years.”

As the technology is being completed, Alioto is focused on the future.

“Our growth plan, at least initially, is taking an operator’s approach. Understanding where we can have a meaningful impact given our existing provider base, and then making it clear to those hospitals what our value proposition is. We’re going to help (hospitals) positively impact patient care because we’re making sure that you’re backfilled,” he said.

“It also gives them the ability to flex up and down their cost structure. In other words, why hire 10 full time employees when really you only need 8.2?” To follow the growth of this emerging HealthTech company, connect with Pagerr here

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