Pairing an MBA student up with a doctor in a life science competition may not seem so out of place, but having that student return as the company’s CEO the following year is certainly a rare occurrence. This is what happened with Mariner Endosurgery and it’s CEO, Mitch Wilson. The former high school science teacher turned medical start-up executive entered Innovation Factory’s Synapse Life Science Competition as an MBA student 2015. This pairing with a medtech start-up became the catalyst that put him on the path to success.
“The first time I applied for Synapse, I was introduced to Dr. David Langlois,” said Wilson. “David had just been issued his first US patent, and even though he knew what he wanted to build, he didn’t know how to build it.”
Langlois’ design would eventually become LaparoGuard, Mariner’s groundbreaking augmented surgical system. LaparoGuard is an augmented surgical navigation system that enables surgeons to have the latest in advanced visualization, augmented reality and spatial awareness tools for minimally invasive procedures.
The pair’s first run at Synapse didn’t take them too far, but a second shot in 2016 with Wilson as CEO earned Mariner a second place finish. Since their win, they’ve hit several major milestones: closing an investment round in 2017, and achieving FDA clearance at the 2018. LaparoGuard is now being used at Hamilton Health Sciences’ General Hospital, as well as other hospitals in the U.S., with plans to expand into Europe.
The growing company’s success earned Mariner the recent investment from Hamilton’s Bay Area Health Trust, enabling them to provide working capital and build out additional LaparoGuard sites in both Canada and the U.S.
Even with success on both sides of the border, Wilson states that Hamilton will be Mariner’s home for the foreseeable future. Through strategic connections facilitated by Hamilton institutions such as Innovation Factory, Synapse Life Science Consortium, McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences, Mariner has grown from an idea to a scalable life science company.
“Hamilton has everything we need to be successful at this point. The foundational building blocks can be found here, from talent to supply chain, to clinicians and hospitals. It’s the perfect location to reach decision makers at large local hospital networks that are not only interested but supportive, too.”
Written by: Kim Zarzuela
Mariner Endosurgery is an Innovation Factory client and a Hamilton-based company that develops and commercializes innovative computer-assisted medical devices for future-facing laparoscopic surgeries. Mariner, formerly known as Virtual Possibilities, placed second in the 2016 Synapse Life Science Competition. Their flagship product LaparoGuard is a novel soft-tissue surgical navigation platform that augments visualization and is designed to enhance the safety profile to assist surgeons in delivering a superior quality of care to their patients. Learn more about Mariner at marinerendosurgery.com.