In the healthcare industry, time is always of the essence. From the Operating Room to the Emergency Room, every second counts. In a world that operates ‘whenever, wherever’, innovations to technology push the envelope of human experience, interaction and intelligence. Borne out of a necessity to alter the way advanced medical imaging systems are designed and manufactured, Mobius Imaging’s objective for their first commercial product, the Airo mobile Intraoperative CT system was simple: bring imaging to the patient, not the patient to imaging.
Simple in theory, undertaking such an endeavor and bringing it to fruition was not without its challenges. The development of the award-winning minimalistic and mobile design of the system involved not only the pioneering of new technologies, but also the efforts of numerous thought leaders and influencers in the industry. For Mobius Imaging President and CEO Gene Gregerson, it was a diligent process.
“In order to build this machine, we weren’t able to grab off the shelf components, we had to build everything from scratch,” said Gregerson. “We had to go to a number of companies that make x-ray tubes, x-ray generators and CT detectors, you name it whatever goes inside a CT, and ask them if it was possible to make these components smaller.”
“We partnered with a large number of big vendors such as Varian Medical Systems to build the most compact X-ray CT tube in the world; it’s about 1/5th the size of a standard CT tube but has almost the same heat capacity and it generates about the same power,” Gregerson continued. “It turned out to be quite the challenge, but in order to develop what the surgeons wanted, it was necessary.”
Founded in 2008, Mobius Imaging’s corporate structure is just as unique at the product they’ve re-invented. Completely angel-funded, the outside injection of not just capital, but expertise and personal experience puts Intelligent Imaging in a whole new perspective.
“The vast majority of our investors are neuro, spine, radiation oncologists and radiologists. So our investors are people who actually want to use the equipment,” said Gregerson. “Rather than a bunch of engineers who think we know what surgeons want, our company is really clinically driven by our investors.”
At 30 systems shipped, the Airo mobile CT system’s range is wide-spreading. Spanning North American academic environments such as Duke University Hospital, Baylor Medical Center and Ingalls Memorial Hospital to hospitals in Europe, namely The Charité in Berlin, Germany, considered the foremost neurosurgery hospital in the country to the Middle East in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, distribution and exposure of the device remains consistent and continues to grow.
“One of the things we continue to work on with our distribution partner is regulatory approvals in a number of other countries,” said Gregerson.
As the only private, independent computer tomography company that we are aware of in the world, Mobius Imaging is spearheaded by a cohesive, collaborative and close-knit development team. Known internally for their experimental approach to technological innovation and work processes, they’ve been recognized by a number of associations, such as: Medical Design Excellence Awards as the Gold Award winner in the Radiological and Electromechanical Devices category, the Red Dot Award for Industrial Design Excellence and by Frost and Sullivan in 2014 as having developed a one-of-a-kind mobile CT scanner in North America – all for their Airo mobile Intraoperative CT system.
“Winning these awards was an amazing validation to our company,” said Gregerson. “Not only to the engineers in our company who designed the system, but it was also a unique opportunity for a large number of our vendors to market the win and show that they were part of the development of the system.”
“I’m a big believer in letting our engineers try stuff, and if it doesn’t work to start over again or change the concept a little bit,” he continued. “We’ve worked with very small and talented design teams within multi-billion dollar companies and we’ve had consistent weekly or bi-weekly meetings where we initially set-out the specifications to develop the technology that needed to work within our machine.”
FAMILY FIRST WORKPLACE
Four years after the company was founded and $20 million dollars later, Mobius Imaging entered the market – at a fraction of cost and time it would have taken a larger company to do so. In competition with some of the world’s foremost brands in medical device technology and integration, the Massachusetts-based company, which employs approximately 60 people, proves that small, slow and steady leads to success.
“We’re very focused on hiring people to the right of the bell curve,” said Gregerson. “I want people that are extremely talented but also are able to communicate with one another. As a company, most start-ups try and drive their engineers or sales and marketing people into the ground. They want their people in there at 5 or 7am and want their engineers to stay there until midnight; I’m not a believer in that.”
“The number one goal is peoples’ lives should be their families,” he continued. “There work should be a pleasant place that fulfills them and provides them with a great standard of living so they can spend time with their families. I don’t like it when people arrive too early or leave too late. In fact, I insist that people don’t arrive earlier than 8am or leave later than 6pm with the exception of critical deadlines, of course, which are rare. We’re very focused on making sure people have balanced lives.”
Mobius Imaging continues to broaden their horizons by using their proprietary core technology and leveraging it into other markets in the medical device space. And while all future devices are subject to FDA review, 510(k) clearance and ROW regulatory approvals, the company’s plans for the years ahead are well-defined.
“Our future goal is to finish development on a number of new types of Imaging Systems that allow applications in a number of environments outside of surgery”, said Gregerson.
With over 97% of its components manufactured in the United States and 80% in the Massachusetts area, it has been a total team effort for Gregerson and Mobius Imaging. Priding itself on its strength and going after hard problems and achieving them with a small group, they are pioneers using amazing technology and transforming healthcare, one innovation at a time.