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Novel Effort Aims to Improve Medical Care and Support Promising Ideas

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 4:45am
The Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Apr 13, 2012-- Rex Healthcare is proud to announce the creation of Rex Strategic Innovations, a unique effort to spur healthcare innovation, improve healthcare delivery and foster job creation.

The initiative will include Rex Health Ventures, one of the only venture-capital investment funds in the country started by a community, nonprofit hospital. The fund is being launched with an initial $10 million investment from Rex Healthcare and will help finance the most promising innovations among new medical services, tools and technologies.

"For more than a century Rex has been a leader in striving to improve the medical care and services we provide to thousands of patients every year," said Rex President David Strong. "This exciting new program is another way Rex will encourage and participate in innovation." Other components of Rex Strategic Innovations include: -- Rex Impact Grants: a program to provide grants to a wide range of businesses and organizations that are working to help improve patient care or community health status.

-- Rex Innovation Facilitator: a formalized way for Rex co-workers and thought leaders in the community to submit innovative ideas and receive technology commercialization and company-building services for promising concepts that could lead to new products or services.

-- Rex Joint Ventures: a program to partner with thought leaders in the local and regional technology, research and entrepreneurial communities. The goal of such partnerships will be to team up to develop new products and services that can improve healthcare technology and delivery.

"Rex's efforts fit well with the city of Raleigh's commitment to find new ways to increase job creation by supporting innovation and small businesses," said Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane. "We welcome Rex's initiative and expect that this community and beyond will enjoy the benefits for years to come." Rex Health Ventures will invest in researchers, entrepreneurs and inventors that share in Rex's vision to provide quality care for patients and improve overall health. By creating the fund, Rex will provide more opportunities for advancements in care and support start-up companies that will help spur new job creation.

"This effort will allow Rex to become a key innovation player in the Triangle and help make this region an even more attractive place for entrepreneurs to grow and succeed," said Joan Siefert Rose, President of CED, the southeast's largest entrepreneurial support organization.

"Rex is uniquely qualified to help drive healthcare innovation and CED looks forward to working with Rex as it moves forward." In some cases, Rex will serve as an incubator or laboratory for new concepts and as a customer for new products and services. For healthcare practitioners, Rex Health Ventures will provide the opportunity to consult and play an active role in bringing new advances in medical care to patients.

"This is an important endeavor for Rex, and an exciting time for innovation in the Triangle. This effort will create new opportunities to advance research and develop breakthrough products and treatments," said Dr. Ravish Sachar, an interventional cardiologist with Wake Heart & Vascular, one of the Triangle's largest specialty physician practices. "As a physician, I look forward to helping important innovations and concepts become a reality." Rex Strategic Innovations and Rex Health Ventures will be overseen by a team that includes David Strong, President of Rex; Steve Burriss, Chief Operating Officer of Rex; R. Erick Hawkins, UNC Health Care System Vice President of Heart & Vascular Services; and Don Esposito, General Counsel of Rex. Robert Helmedag will serve as Director of Operations and handle day-to-day business. W. Merrette Moore, managing partner with Raleigh-based investment firm Lookout Capital and a veteran early stage venture capital investor, is acting as a key advisor.

In addition, that team will receive guidance and direction from an advisory board that brings deep technology, research, business and investment experience. That group includes: -- Tom Darden, the CEO of Cherokee and founder of Cherokee Investment Partners, Cherokee Property Foundation and Cherokee Sanford Group.

-- Jim Hyler, a member of the Board of Trustees at Rex Healthcare since 2007 and a retired banking executive with First Citizens Bank in Raleigh.

-- Dale Jenkins, Rex Board Chairman and the CEO of Medical Mutual Insurance Company of North Carolina.

-- Dr. Tift Mann, an interventional cardiologist who co-founded Wake Heart & Vascular, one of the Triangle's largest specialty physician practices.

-- Champ Mitchell, who currently serves on the Board of Directors for the 41st Parameter. He is the former Chairman and CEO of Network Solutions.

-- Dhruv Patel, a Program Director, Senior Manager of Life Science Programs and Senior Manager of Capital and Technology Development at the Council for Entrepreneurial Development.

-- Dr. Cam Patterson, chief of cardiology and associate chair for research in the UNC Department of Medicine, physician-in-chief of the UNC Center for Heart and Vascular Care and associate dean for medical entrepreneurship at the UNC School of Medicine.

-- Dr. Jay Yadav, an interventional cardiologist and entrepreneur. He is the founder and CEO of CardioMEMS Inc. and a consulting cardiologist at the Piedmont Heart Institute in Atlanta.

-- Ted Zoller, a practicing entrepreneur, the Director for UNC's Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and Associate Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at UNC's Kenan-Flager Business School.

For more information, visit rexstrategicinnovations.com and rexhealthventures.com.

About Rex Healthcare Rex Healthcare, a member of UNC Health Care, is a private, not-for-profit health care system with more than 5,300 co-workers. Rex Healthcare has 660 beds (433 general acute beds and 227 skilled nursing) and treats nearly 34,000 inpatients each year. Rex offers dedicated centers for cancer, surgery, heart and vascular, post-acute rehabilitation and skilled nursing care, wellness and women's care plus dedicated services for bariatric, heartburn, pain management, sleep disorders, diabetes education, wound and emergency care. Rex's medical staff includes more than 1,100 physicians and 1,700 nurses.

Rex provides various health care services throughout Wake County with facilities in Apex, Cary, Garner, Holly Springs, Knightdale, Wakefield and downtown Raleigh. Rex was the first hospital in the Triangle to receive Magnet Recognition, placing Rex nurses among the top 6 percent in the nation. Rex was named one of the top 100 Best Places to Work in Healthcare by Modern Healthcare magazine in 2008, 2009 and 2011, and was highlighted as one of the Top 50 Hospitals in the U.S. by Becker's Hospital Review in 2011. Visit rexhealth.com for more information.

CONTACT: Rex Healthcare Alan M. Wolf, 919-784-4467 alan.wolf@rexhealth.com KEYWORD: UNITED STATES NORTH AMERICA NORTH CAROLINA INDUSTRY KEYWORD: VENTURE CAPITAL HEALTH HOSPITALS PROFESSIONAL SERVICES SOURCE: Rex Healthcare Copyright Business Wire 2012 PUB: 04/13/2012 08:30 AM/DISC: 04/13/2012 08:30 AM http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20120413005341/

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