Destination Medical Center

The Assistive Tech Challenge Debuts November 3 in Rochester

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(Rochester, MN) November 1, 2018 - Destination Medical Center is pleased to introduce the Assistive Tech Challenge - a pitch competition presented by Destination Medical Center’s Discovery Square in collaboration with The Arc Minnesota Southeast Region and the disABILITY Mayo Clinic Employee Resource Group to facilitate greater independence for individuals with disabilities and the daily challenges they face. 

Saturday, November 3, 2018 at the Assistive Technology Expo 

Heintz Center, 1926 Collegeview Rd E, Rochester, Minnesota 

Expo Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. 

Assistive Tech Challenge Pitch Competition: 12 Noon – 3:00 p.m. 

 The Assistive Tech Challenge seeks solutions to: 

● Alleviating barriers to employment; 

● Providing support for care providers; 

● Enhancing social skill development to cultivate meaningful relationships; and 

● Improving access to the community through public infrastructure 

There are two divisions: 

Open (community-based teams and students) 

Professional (corporations formed with annual revenues not exceeding $250,000) 

Thirteen participating teams come from the greater Rochester area and the Twin Cities and universities, including: University of Minnesota, Winona State University, Minnesota State University Mankato and University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. 

Teams will address the following questions in a five-minute presentation to an expert panel of judges, followed by two minutes of Q&A: 

● What problem are you solving? 

● How are you solving the problem? 

● Why is your team the one to solve it? 

● What do you need to further develop your idea? 

$15,000 will be awarded by The Arc Minnesota to the first and second place winners in each division to further advance their idea. 

First Prize: $5,000 

Second Prize: $2,500 

All first and second place teams will be eligible to participate in the Walleye Tank pitch competition in Rochester, MN on December 7, 2018. 

Special thanks to Fredrikson and Byron, P.A. and Home Federal for their support of the Assistive Tech Challenge. 

Locally Designed Prototypes on Display in DMC's Heart of the City Subdistrict for Next Month


Three Rochester innovators will see their creations come to life this month as part of this city’s downtown infrastructure. After a two-year journey, these public health prototypes, created during a city-wide prototyping festival, are on display in Destination Medical Center’s Heart of the City subdistrict for further development as the structures seek their final home.

All three concepts- “the Artery,” “Info Alley,” and “Multilingual Pedestrian Signage”- were born in June 2016 at the Rochester “Idea Jam,” an event to engage the community to tap its creative side and transform the built environment to better support public health. This initiative- supported by DMC, the Rochester Art Center, and Downtown Rochester Alliance- brought together fifty-five community members to develop concepts engaging nature, food, connectiveness, inclusivity, accessibility, diversity, or art to improve health. Twenty different ideas for prototypes, or small models to test a concept, emerged from this session.

Over the next few months, ideas for prototypes were submitted as proposals, with sixteen concepts chosen to be built and displayed during a three-day PlaceMakers Prototyping Festival in September 2016. During that time, about five thousand people interacted with the prototypes.

Now, three of these original concepts have been scaled to an even larger level and are on display for the next month for further refining and testing in the Peace Plaza. These prototypes include: “The Artery,” “Info Alley,” and “Multilingual Pedestrian Signage.” 

Development of “The Artery” is led by local artist Eric Anderson. This art piece displays “the profound moments of hope and healing happening within our healthcare institutions every day.” This installation changes color based on real-time data from Mayo Clinic to signal health events such as a birth, organ transplant, or chemotherapy treatment completion. 

The “Info Alley” prototype team is led by local business owner Sean Baker. This installation is “an interactive multimedia display that enhances an otherwise underutilized space by projecting live video, event listings, social media activity, and other relevant community information.”

Development of the final community prototype, “Multilingual Pedestrian Signage,” is led by Edgar Mtanous. This prototype is designed “to advocate for a collaborative, healthy, and vibrant community by forming stronger cultural and infrastructure links between Rochester, its citizens, and visitors.”

All three prototypes were unveiled on October 17th as part of DMC’s 2018 Annual Meeting. The installations will be on display in the Peace Plaza for thirty days.

Groundbreaking Accelerates Momentum In DMC's Discovery Square Sub-District


Momentum in Discovery Square, a sixteen-block sub-district of Destination Medical Center (DMC), accelerated yesterday when the Minneapolis-based developer Mortenson Company, DMC, the State of Minnesota, and local leaders broke ground on the site of the first new construction facility in the sub-district. 

Virtual reality gear from Area 10 Labs during the Discovery Square Community Celebration.

Virtual reality gear from Area 10 Labs during the Discovery Square Community Celebration.

This event launched Phase 1 of Discovery Square to create a four-story, ~90,000 square-foot building to house life science and medical innovation and attract talent from around the world to accelerate the translation of medicine and health technology.

This first new building will be located near Mayo Clinic’s downtown campus, near their Guggenheim and Stabile buildings, on the corner of 4th Street SW and 2nd Avenue SW.

David Mortenson, Chair of Mortenson Company, called the vision and strategy behind Discovery Square bold.

He asked, “Where else in the world could you stand and say, ‘We are here to revolutionize medicine, to change history, and to have an impact not just on millions, but perhaps on billions of people across the world’?” 

This first new building is designed to foster collisions and collaboration featuring an integrated, open-work space and centralized common areas.

Image from Discovery Square Community Celebration prior to the groundbreaking ceremony.

Image from Discovery Square Community Celebration prior to the groundbreaking ceremony.

Mayo Clinic is an anchor tenant in this first Mortenson building and will occupy three floors, bringing their Individualized Medicine, Regenerative Medicine, and Advanced Diagnostic programs into the space. Mortenson is continuing their tenant recruitment process for the building and is currently in talks with both high growth and early phase companies in four different countries.

“Just to get to this point is pretty incredible,” said Lisa Clarke, Executive Director of DMC Economic Development Agency. This moment, Clarke explained, is truly a milestone in the history of the Rochester community.

“The celebration today, it’s about investments and it’s about partnerships. And it’s about science, and research, and technology,” Clarke stated. “And it’s about all of us coming together and colliding and creating greatness in innovation. And we want to keep it right here in this community, and in this region, and in the state of Minnesota.”

The groundbreaking serves a catalyst to position Rochester as a global health destination, said Lt. Governor Tina Smith, that builds upon the city’s and state’s rich legacies of innovation.


“A legacy that includes the first pace maker, the first open heart surgery, not to mention snow blowers, Twister, Bisquick, and Spam,” she said. “Minnesota’s inventions have made this state and this world a better, healthier, more fun place.”

DMC developments, in total, are expected to add 30,000 new jobs in Minnesota and to establish more businesses that incorporate Mayo Clinic intellectual property.

“With the groundbreaking in Discovery Square, the Destination Medical Center continues to garner attention of investors around the country, life science companies, corporate organizations, and indeed patients from all over the world,” explained Mayo Clinic President and CEO Dr. John Noseworthy. “As we make this a reality, the opportunity remains to attract even more startups to our city, to our region, and to our state.”

Events of the day did not forget the startups and entrepreneurs already innovating in the Discovery Square sub-district. All current neighborhood collaborators gathered for a community celebration and innovation showcase prior to the groundbreaking ceremony. Discovery Square tenants Limb Lab, GoRout, Area 10 Labs, and Collider Coworking participated in the showcase. Food was provided by the Discovery Square residents People’s Food Co-op and Pasquale’s Neighborhood Pizzeria. The art installation “The Vast and Empty Ballrooms of the Double Helix’s Heart” by Rochester creative Eric Anderson was also displayed to explore the fabric and culture of the Rochester community.

(Click on the photos below to below to advance through images from the Discovery Square Community Celebration.)

Eleven Rochester Biotech Companies Showcased at Investors + Innovators Forum


Last week eleven life science and biotech startups pitched their business at the Destination Medical Center’s Investors + Innovators Forum to shed light on Rochester’s innovation culture. Participating startups included: Ambient Clinical Analytics, Apri Health, Forge Biotechnology, Geneticure, Gila Therapeutics, Imanis Life Sciences, Mill Creek Life Sciences, Rochester Medical Technologies, Smartimplant Systems, SpineThera, and Universal Prosthetics.

Here’s some insight on four of these Rochester startups.


Geneticure, LLC

Geneticure is developing technology to replace the trial and error associated with hypertension therapy by harnessing the power of genomics. This largely Rochester-based team is tackling one of the largest causes of preventable death facing today’s healthcare system, high blood pressure, which affects 80M U.S. citizens and results in 5M new diagnoses each year. The current method to control high blood pressure through drug treatment is fifty to sixty-five weeks long, where the patient’s response to various types and doses of hypertension drugs are evaluated. This is an expensive and inefficient process, with only half of all patients effectively mitigating their disease. To solve this problem, Geneticure developed a panel of genes and proprietary algorithms to guide hypertensive drug treatment by predicting how patients will respond to certain therapies. Patients are genotyped, or their DNA content is sequenced at precise regions of the genome, through a simple cheek swab. The patient’s DNA is run on the Geneticure panel to examine the individual’s gene sequence at specific regions involved in drug response and the information is used by the clinician to guide therapy. The first Geneticure product results in the use of fewer ineffective medications and improves patient adherence. The team completed a 100-person retrospective study for their product and is now recruiting eight hundred participants for a prospective randomized control trial. The company has recently taken investment from the California-based venture capital firm Wireframe Ventures. Geneticure has two other products in the pipeline.


Gila Therapeutics, Inc.

Gila Therapeutics is a clinical stage pharmaceutical company that is developing novel treatments for obesity. Two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese, costing the healthcare system $190B each year. Obesity leads to a variety of health concerns including diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. Each year, 100M Americans attempt diets, but less than one percent of these people lose weight. There are currently five obesity drugs on the market, but these therapeutics only capture a small percentage of the $60B spent every year on weight loss products, diets, and surgery. To tackle this issue, Gila Therapeutics is developing novel treatments for obesity. Their current therapy involves topical application of the satiety hormone PYY to the tongue, where the peptide interacts with local receptors and induces a signaling cascade to make the body feel full. PYY is normally produced by cells in the small intestine upon food digestion. The hormone gets released into the blood and works its way into the saliva to interact with receptors on the tongue. For therapeutic applications, the hormone is delivered before eating to activate satiety centers, making the patient feel fuller sooner and eat less. Gila Therapeutics has raised $4M in Series A financing, which was led by a Boston firm. This August, the team completed a Phase I trial to examine the safety of their therapy. Currently, they are undergoing a Series B effort with the hopes to raise $5M in capital to fuel the next phase of drug development.

Imanis Life Sciences, LLC

Imanis Life Sciences is a research tools company headquartered in downtown Rochester. This business develops reporter gene technologies to enable live, high-resolution imaging in animal models. Their licensed proprietary technology includes Sodium Iodide Symporter (NIS) reporter imaging, allowing the visualization of specific cells and viruses in real time. Their products include reporter gene lentiviral vectors, reporter gene cell lines, and oncolytic viruses. Imanis Life Sciences was founded in 2012 as one of the first Mayo Clinic employee entrepreneurial startups. Currently, the business has eleven employees and has taken $1M of investment. They plan to grow organically through sale of their products and tools.


Mill Creek Life Sciences, LLC

Mill Creek Life Sciences is a research tools company located in the Minnesota BioBusiness Center. The company, founded in 2010, was one of the original Mayo Clinic spinouts. Mill Creek Life Sciences created the very first human platelet lysate for stem cell growth for use in research and clinical trials. Human platelet lysate is derived from expired platelets donated for transfusion and has abundant growth factors and cytokines- cellular molecules that function in immune response. The company also holds patented technology to mediate growth of targeted cell types. Customers for these core products include academic clinical labs, large biotech corporations, and contract manufacturing groups. Now, Mill Creek Life Sciences is expanding the business to treat glioblastoma, an extremely aggressive type of brain cancer. The company has completed a small Phase I clinical trial for glioblastoma treatment at Mayo Clinic.

Exporting from Minnesota: The Who, What, Where, and Why?


Last week, Mayo Clinic and the Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency (DMC EDA) hosted an International Business Development Event in Bleu Duck Kitchen, connecting guests from the U.S. Commercial Service, Minnesota Trade Office (MTO), and Greater MSP to members of the Rochester entrepreneurial community. The goal: to communicate export resources offered by these local, state, and federal entities for international business and to share the “change and evolution” occurring in the Rochester entrepreneurial community at a larger level.

Sarah Walbert- Regional Trade Manager for life science industries and expert in Japanese and South Korean markets- represented MTO. MTO is a division of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), with a focus on international business. MTO assists Minnesota companies in exporting goods and services and helps to promote those exports. MTO employs five Regional Trade Managers to cover the entire globe and provide expert insight in their markets, including: Canada, Mexico, Latin America, the Caribbean, Japan, Korea, the European Union, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia.

MTO offers eight core resources to help Minnesota businesses export internationally including education, training, state export statistics, turnkey trade show participation, export counseling, trade mission management, chief of protocol, foreign direct investment attraction, and STEP grant funding.

The STEP grant is a federally funded program, covering trade show expenses up to $7,500. This grant helped fifty-four Minnesota companies attend trade shows in FY2016, amounting to $2.1M in overseas sales.

Export Development Manager Jennifer Erickson represented Greater MSP at the event. Greater MSP is a regional economic development partnership covering Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and the sixteen-county metro area. Although their focus is mainly in the Twin Cities, Greater MSP closely collaborates with regional partners, like Mayo Clinic.

Greater MSP’s primary mission is to attract workers to Minneapolis/Saint Paul to facilitate business growth and draw investment to that region. Talent attraction is a major push, currently, with their “Make It. MSP.” marketing initiative, showcasing the diversity of the region from a local point of view.

In 2011, Greater MSP launched their Exports Initiative to unify export resources and define and target efforts to internationally grow the MSP area.

Senior International Trade Specialist David Edmiston represented the final guest at the event, the U.S. Commercial Service, a federal agency helps U.S. businesses export their goods and services. They have locations in one hundred ten cities and seventy-five markets around the globe including: The United Arab Emirates, Canada, Germany, Japan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.

However, the real value is in their field-based resources. The U.S. Commercial Service serves as a direct point of contact for Minnesota companies to facilitate export needs.

They additionally provide trade counseling, market intelligence reports, export counseling, and due diligence to U.S. businesses. The U.S. Commercial Service also produces country specific commercial reports, documenting market conditions, regulations, and the business climate from all their global offices. They also offer in-depth, technology specific guides as references for U.S. exporters.

The U.S. Commercial Service’s expertise lies in their business matchmaking skills. They can provide an initial market check for a U.S. business to determine what a good market looks like; they also offer international partner search reports on prequalified business contacts. Additionally, the U.S. Commercial Service runs a “Gold Key Service,” where a U.S. business is escorted around a potential export destination by an international colleague to meet with prospective business collaborators in that location. These services are all offered at reasonable user fees.

The main takeaway from the event: there is no reason to limit business opportunities to the United States. Today, ninety-five percent of consumers and eighty percent of purchasing power is located outside of the United States (according to Greater MSP). These organizations- the Minnesota Trade Office, Greater MSP, and the U.S. Commercial Services- are here to assist, prepare, and educate Minnesota businesses to play a role in the international economy.

Press Release: Progress and Excitement Build around Discovery Square as DMCC Board Supports Mortenson’s $35 Million Project in Rochester


ROCHESTER, Minn. (July 27, 2017) – The Destination Medical Center Corporation (DMCC) Board of Directors voted to approve the $35 million Mortenson project in the Discovery Square sub-district under the DMC Development Plan. The building is one is a series of DMC projects in the sub-district. The project will receive $4.9 million in DMC tax-increment financing.

“Today we take an important step forward with Discovery Square, a place where Minnesota's next successful medical technology start-ups will be launched. This project will help diversify Rochester's economy, create great jobs, and ensure Rochester remains America’s City for Health,” said Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, Chair of the DMC Board of Directors. “I thank Mortenson, Mayo Clinic, and the Rochester community for their work on this Discovery Square project. We have taken another important economic development step for the Destination Medical Center, Rochester, and Minnesota.”

During the meeting, the DMCC board recognized the certification of the 2016 DMC private investment figures by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). This move allows the State of Minnesota to provide the first annual installment of public infrastructure aid, totaling approximately $2.68 million in fiscal year 2018, to the City of Rochester and the DMCC.

Other updates provided information on the public realm design of the Heart of the City, Chateau Theatre, and St. Marys Place; a progress update for the Alatus, Titan-Opus, and Titan Hilton projects; the work of the DMC Energy Integration Committee and the impact of the DMC marketing plan.

“Today we continued to see the momentum of the DMC initiative,” said Lisa Clarke, Executive Director of DMC. “By voting to approve this Discovery Square Public Infrastructure Project, the board has advanced the goal of making Rochester a global destination for health, wellness and research. This project, the third DMC project in the last year, further validates the DMC vision and the strength of the Rochester real estate, development, and investment markets.”

The next scheduled meeting of the DMCC Board of Directors will take place on November 2, 2017.


About DMC

Destination Medical Center (DMC) is the largest public-private economic initiative in Minnesota's history. The 20-year plan to transform Rochester into a global destination for health and wellness will attract developers, investors, startups, and entrepreneurs to live, work, and play in America's City for Health. For more information, visit