The Argentine urologist Jorge Walter Petrone talks about his invention that simplifies surgical procedures – and why Mannheim’s Cubex41 was the perfect place for his startup company M.I.S. Devices.
Jorge, how good does a startup center need to be to persuade a scientist from Buenos Aires to come to Mannheim?
The startup center Cubex41 is like paradise to me! Right in the middle of the University Teaching Clinic, there is an excellent network with exciting start-ups for my work and an experimental operation theater that ranks among the best four in Europe. These are unbelievably favorable work conditions.
How did Mannheim catch your eye?
It all started in 2014 at the Medical Fair in Dusseldorf. My company WOM Surgical from Buenos Aires presented its prototype of a minimal-invasive surgical instrument at the Argentine fair booth. Here, an employee of the Mannheim Fraunhofer Institute approached me and asked if we wouldn’t be interested in producing this instrument here in Germany. Very soon we made contact with the Medical Cluster Mannheim and I was suddenly struck by the idea of moving into the brand-new startup center Cubex41 as a start-up entrepreneur.”
Why German exactly?
Germany is a global leader in medical technology. We were searching for an excellent manufacturer for our prototype and got lucky in Tuttlingen. Now we are looking for customers for our company M.I.S Devices who want to use our minimal- invasive surgical instrument.
M.I.S. Devices offer an innovative system for minimal-invasive operations. What is so special about that?
While in most common larger operations, for example on your spleen or liver, several instruments have to be inserted through incisions; the five-part kit I developed is based on needles that are partially flexible. Plus, we use a so-called “Single Port System” where several operating instruments can be inserted through the navel.
What are the advantages of this technology?
You need fewer incisions, the patient experiences less pain and eventually has fewer scars. It also cuts the cost for the procedure since patients can be discharged from the hospital after only a short time.
At Cubex41 other medical technological startups are operating as well. Has networking with other companies already produced tangible results?
Thanks to our work at Cubex41, three more projects got started that are being realized right now. The collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute is really paying off for my products – here doors open that would stay shut otherwise.
How does it feel to live in Mannheim, coming from a megacity like Buenos Aires?
Mannheim is small, compared to Buenos Aires, but Mannheim is still a big city with everything a metropolis has to offer. Distances are short, you can get anywhere real fast. I like the surrounding outdoors here and I like that there are two big rivers, the Rhine and the Neckar, meandering through the city. I love riding my bike along the riverbank. Mannheim is young, cosmopolitan and urban but not a maelstrom of a city. And the best thing is: People here are approach you easily, they are open, friendly, and broad-minded – and international. Since I started M.I.S. Devices GmbH in Mai 2015, I have been her four times for three months each and now I want to bring my wife over to Mannheim. Fact is, I really have arrived in this city!