Success in Life Sciences & Health entrepreneurship revolves as much around fruitful collaborations and successful partnerships as it does balance sheets and investment returns. This is because a shared culture of creative collaboration and trust is often the key to unlocking innovative potential. The merger of Eindhoven-based LifeTec Group and Resolution Medical LLC from Minnesota is a perfect example of how Life Sciences & Health companies find collaborations that drive innovation and growth to levels that could not be achieved as a solo entity. Resolution Medical’s presence in the Netherlands enriches Europe’s connected Life Sciences & Health Metropolis and provides the springboard into Europe for its MedTech customers.
Set up in 2012, Resolution Medical is a CDMO specializing in medical device development, testing (including bio-simulation models), and manufacturing. The company already had several customers in Europe and was servicing them from Minnesota when it was acquired by Arcline Investment Management in 2021. With the subsequent availability of finance for smart expansion, Resolution Medical opened a second facility in Minnesota and began looking to augment its testing capabilities. Shawn Patterson, Resolution Medical’s Co-Founder explains, “One thing we had been doing internally, but not super-well, was creating bio-simulation models or bench models for testing. A few years back, we had worked together with LifeTec Group from Eindhoven via one of our clients, and we had a great experience. We also had customers in Europe that we needed to service. So, I reached out to LifeTec Group to ask: ‘‘how could we partner?’”
LifeTec Group is a preclinical contract research company that is a spin-out of the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e). It didn’t have any investors and was looking for growth capital as it desired to establish a base in the US to help service existing customers and expand its US client base. “We were in talks with two investors in 2021,” explains LifeTec Group CEO Jurgen de Hart, “when Shawn called me and said: ‘I think it would be interesting for us to explore a potential collaboration together.’ I had visited Resolution Medical in 2020 as a potential strategic partner for collaboration, and I felt ‘this is a nice company; it has a good company culture,’ and I left Resolution Medical saying let’s see what the future will bring.” LifeTec Group had strict selection criteria for potential investors. “We were very selective in choosing that investor, that venture capitalist, or that strategic partner that we wanted to spend the next 10-20 years with,” explains de Hart, echoing the sentiment of Resolution Medical.
“I found the same kind of company culture in Resolution Medical, and Shawn, as co-founder, did a great job in creating that. A number of our personnel have visited Resolution Medical in Minnesota, and they all felt the same. And the same is true for Resolution Medical staff that come here – it is so easy to communicate and to connect with them, which promises a great future, as it all starts with teams and team building. When you combine all that with the fantastic services and technology that we both have, it’s amazing.” LifeTec’s aim was to expand its business in the USA by providing its services via localized presence and a dedicated simlab facility. The merger with Resolution helped realize that ambition.
The outlook from the Minnesota perspective was also positive. “It made sense to do a deal,” states Patterson pragmatically. “LifeTec Group gained a location at a full development and manufacturing facility in the US, which provided a service base and exposed them to many more customers. On the Resolution Medical side, it allowed us to be exposed to new customers and provide a much better service on the development side. There are very few competitive bio-sim platforms globally, so our goal was to duplicate what LifeTec Group has at Eindhoven in Minnesota, and we’ve done that. Our strategy is to continue to expand our services in Europe to more early-stage development.”
The ability to do early pre-clinical testing and avoid some animal studies results in substantial efficiency gains and time savings. Furthermore, rapid iterations of designs help highlight and solve problems more quickly. “A team of engineers can enter the lab with a device they have built on the bench today and go into the lab, test the device on a biosimulation platform to see how it performs,” explains Patterson. “On that same day, they can alter the device and go back in and test it again. The feedback is almost instant, and you are accelerating your development cycle while reducing the risk when going into animal or human studies. It’s a capability that you don’t see too often.”
Demand from customers who additionally wanted fluoro and echo capabilities during the development of their device also helped drive the fusion with LifeTec Group. Furthermore, it opened up a new niche of physician training for companies going clinical with their new devices or therapies. “Previously, we would train physicians or engineers on their devices before an animal study, on a device they had just made, but that is nothing compared to what we can do now with the LifeTec Group capabilities.”
Cultural aspects can often weigh heavily when companies join forces. For both LifeTec Group and Resolution Medical, a harmonious match was of prime importance as neither wanted to become part of some faceless conglomerate. To Arcline’s credit, its hands-off approach enabled the two companies to form a strategic alliance with a partner that was the best fit. As a result, the similarities in both companies’ cultures helped ensure that the match was good and a true win-win. Both companies place a strong emphasis on nurturing long-term partnerships based on transparency, integrity, and authenticity, and bringing urgently needed medical devices to patients across multiple therapeutic areas. “We’ve meshed so well, and our cultures are very similar. LifeTec Group is very open with their customers, and that’s the way we are at Resolution Medical, so our approach to business and employees, etc., is very similar,” states Patterson. “They also have a great name and reputation, which is why we decided to retain the LifeTec Group brand. We felt it was really important to keep the brand and co-market our two entities.”
Jurgen de Hart sees excellent potential in Brabant for US MedTech companies. “Brabant offers a very good ecosystem for MedTech companies to come to the Netherlands as a bridge towards Europe. The region does a fantastic job – there is a good ecosystem and a lot of support. I believe that for a Minneapolis/Minnesota-based company, it’s very interesting to be here and start a business here, particularly when it comes to medical devices. In addition, the knowledge we have gained through our experience with our merger is something that we can share with the community here.”
The ambition is to see controlled growth and expansion of the Resolution Medical services in Europe, along with more sim-lab work in Minnesota and leveraging the individual strengths and capabilities of the two entities. De Hart’s vision is refreshingly simple: “Keep growing together and supporting our customers more, and we’ll all be happy!”