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17th May 2024

From loss to action: IntelVasc Inc are confronting cardiovascular mortality

“Losing my best friend to cardiovascular disease sparked something in me. I left my corporate career to contribute to the transition: from reacting to such health issues to actively anticipating them.”

– Andrew Ortega-Verdaguer, CEO & Co-Founder, IntelVasc Inc

Set in the bustling United Arab Emirates, Dubai shines as a global hub for medical technology and digital health.

In February, the MedTech World Dubai Roadshow showcased this prowess, drawing top talent like Andrew Ortega-Verdaguer from IntelVasc Inc.

His innovative pitch earned him the coveted MedTech World Pitch trophy. 

With 15 years in healthcare, Andrew Ortega-Verdaguer brings global expertise in operations, marketing, strategy, and sales from large corporations to startups. He’s passionate about enhancing healthcare efficiency, sustainability, and introducing life-saving technologies.

Today, we’re excited to feature him in this heart-to-heart interview with Matthew Calleja!

Inside IntelVasc

  • Andrew, with your extensive experience in the healthcare industry, what inspired you to co-found IntelVasc Inc., and how does your background influence the company’s vision and mission?

After spending 15 years in major corporations and dedicating the last decade to cardiovascular surgery, where I supervised the launch of over a dozen products worldwide, I saw firsthand how new treatments greatly improved patient clinical outcomes. 

But then the pandemic hit, and I lost my best friend to a stroke. It hit me hard, making me realise how far behind we are in predicting deadly cardiovascular disease, which still tops the charts as the leading cause of mortality globally. 

That loss sparked something in me—I couldn’t just sit back anymore. So, I decided to leave my career in corporate and do something about it, to contribute to the global trend of transitioning from reacting to cardiovascular disease to actively anticipating it.

  • Can you elaborate on how IntelVasc’s minimally invasive vascular biosensor works and its potential impact on reducing cardiovascular mortality globally?

Cardiovascular disease often goes unnoticed due to its lack of symptoms, leading to as many as 65% of patients missing their medical check-ups. 

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD), for instance, poses a significant threat as it can lead to artery occlusions in the legs, potentially resulting in strokes, heart attacks, or limb amputations in up to 30% of cases. 

Addressing this major health issue couldn’t have been possible without our dedicated team of engineers, led by CTO Kyle Fredericks and CSO Prof. Marie Muller, and surgeons lead by our chief medical officer Prof. Jean Bismuth. Together, we have developed the world’s first subcutaneous sensor for remote monitoring of vascular occlusions.

This innovative, battery-less sensor can be activated externally using  a scanner prescribed by the doctor. Once activated, it transmits measurements to the cloud remotely, where AI algorithms analyse the data, providing precise occlusion measurements to both doctors and patients. In case of surpassing occlusion thresholds, the system triggers alarms for immediate medical attention.

Onstage and off

  • How has your participation in the MedTech World Dubai Roadshow impacted the growth and expansion plans of IntelVasc?

Participating in the showcase allowed me to present IntelVasc’s vision to prominent figures in the medtech community across the Gulf region. This perfectly aligns with our strategy of broadening our clinical footprint to include countries like the UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Oman, among others, and advancing our commercialization efforts after our US launch. 

Additionally, gaining recognition from regulators is crucial for us. The positive feedback from investors was encouraging, and we’re eager to welcome capital from this region to support our expansion plans and activities.

  • Besides pitching and showcasing your product, how did you prioritise networking and exploring partnership opportunities?

I found the event strategically organised to promote networking and facilitate meeting

new people. Whether during sessions, the coffee breaks, lunchtime, or the cocktail

hour after the sessions, opportunities abounded. 

In the span of a single day, I had the invaluable opportunity to engage with key stakeholders, including representatives from the UAE Ministry of Health, healthcare consultants, executives from prominent corporations, medtech investors active in the Gulf countries, and fellow entrepreneurs. This immersive experience provided me with profound insights into the potential synergies and opportunities for my company within the region.

Strategy for the future

  • What were some of the most valuable insights or feedback you received about your product or service?

I was genuinely impressed by the alignment of our vision for predicting vascular events with the interests of the judges, investors, and regulators. 

The UAE’s dedication to developing a sustainable healthcare system, demonstrated by its emphasis on learning from others, highlighted a strong commitment to remote monitoring technologies aimed at reducing healthcare costs, improving surgical outcomes, and optimising clinicians’ time. 

Moreover, the evident interest in our product’s AI component underscored the potential for artificial intelligence to play a significant role in achieving these goals.

  • How does IntelVasc Inc. plan to collaborate with healthcare professionals and institutions to implement its technology and achieve its goal of promoting proactive care and early detection of vascular occlusion?

IntelVasc’s technology is deeply rooted in the expertise of surgeons, having been conceived and crafted by surgical professionals. 

Our co-founder, Prof. Bismuth, chief of vascular surgery at  Tampa General Hospital, along with a panel of nearly a dozen global key opinion leaders, including the distinguished  Dr. Frank Veith, have been instrumental in identifying critical medical needs and shaping the product’s development.

Moving forward, upon confirming the readiness of our technology, we plan to establish strategic partnerships with select medical institutions to conduct initial human trials and develop cost-effectiveness assessments to secure reimbursement. This approach aims to democratise the accessibility of our technology.

A notable example of such collaboration is the co-development initiative between IntelVasc and the Mayo Clinic, a leading medical institution globally. Our shared commitment to enhancing cardiovascular patient care made us a perfect match. 

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