Why this former spine surgeon built an incubator for healthcare startups in Seattle

Dr. Jeffrey Roh started his career as an entrepreneur after creating a method for a less invasive form of spine surgery. He started knocking on the doors of spine companies to sell the idea and got what many first-time entrepreneurs experience: lots of rejections.

Eventually, he landed a buyer that would later take the technology to a number of surgical platforms — but only after discovering a brand new opportunity.

“We recognized that there was this pain point both on the entrepreneurial side, as well as the industry side,” Roh said. Here was the problem: large healthcare businesses had shifted their appetite away from internal research and development teams in favor of acquiring companies. But life science companies need lots of early-stage support, which is hard to come by.

Roh took a page from the tech industry’s handbook and started an incubator in Seattle called IntuitiveX with the goal of supporting startups during those critical early years.

“In the tech industry, you can actually start up a company with relatively low barriers and low initial investment capital,” Roh said. But for life science companies, early investment in intellectual property is essential to getting up and running. Roh co-founded IntuitiveX with Mark Hahn and Simon Robinson, who both brought extensive intellectual property knowledge.

Since launching in 2016, IntuitiveX has amassed a portfolio of a dozen startups, which includes digital health, medical device and biotech companies. Given Roh’s own background in spinal surgery, it’s no surprise that six of the incubator’s startups are working on efforts related to surgery or spinal conditions.

The format is a hybrid of accelerator programs like TechStars and Y Combinator as well as “startup studios” such as Pioneer Square Labs. The idea for an IntuitiveX startup can come from people within the incubator or from outsiders, which in most cases involves someone with technical knowledge who needs business and financing support. In exchange for equity, the incubator provides both funding and expertise to young companies.

By James Thorne | GeekWire

Image Credit: James Thorne / GeekWire


About Peter Coffaro 506 Articles
Peter Coffaro is a growth-driven and strategic executive with over 25 years of progressive management success in the medical device industry. With a proven track record and recognized expertise, Peter has established himself as one of the top influencers in medical sales, as acknowledged by prestigious publications such as the World Journal of Orthopedics, Exponential Healthtech, and MedReps.com. Throughout his career, Peter has accumulated 10 years of combined sales management experience, excelling in various roles including Director, General Manager, Distributor, and Vice President. He has worked for industry-leading orthopedic companies such as Zimmer, DePuy, and Stryker, solidifying his deep knowledge and network within the field. Peter’s passion for innovation and emerging technologies led him to found OrthoFeed, an award-winning blog covering digital orthopedic news and emerging medical technologies. Through this platform, he stays at the forefront of the industry and contributes to the dissemination of valuable insights. Peter is a three-time Hall of Fame award winner at Johnson and Johnson, demonstrating his exceptional contributions and impact on the organization. His expertise extends to areas such as organizational development, business development, sales management, digital marketing, and professional education. Peter earned a B.S. degree in Biology and Chemistry from Northern Illinois University, further complementing his comprehensive understanding of the medical field. With his wealth of experience, strategic mindset, and dedication to advancing healthcare, Peter Coffaro is a valuable asset and leader in the medical device industry.

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