Month: March 2019

Prototyping for the Future

First Avenue: curbless design & pedestrian friendly

Heart of the City is part of the Destination Medical Center initiative to revitalize downtown Rochester to reflect the city’s diversity and vibrancy and solidify it as a global destination for health and wellness.

As part of the Heart of the City public space design process, First Avenue in downtown Rochester is being designed as a curbless, pedestrian-friendly street. Recently, the future of First Avenue was prototyped, which showed the new design of the street, curb, and sidewalk.

Members of the Heart of the City design team were present to answer questions and collect feedback from business owners and the public.

One of the goals of Heart of the City is creating opportunities for year-round use of public spaces. At the wildly successful SocialICE event in February, produced by the Rochester Downtown Alliance, DMC tested heated benches, which were very popular. Other ideas included adding winter-friending programming, wind buffers and using heated benches or site features to create additional ways to keep people warm outdoors.

Warming benches at SocialICE

“Heart of the City is an important community gathering place. The feedback we receive from our public engagement is valuable as we continue to create experiences in Heart of the City for everyone to enjoy,” noted Patrick Seeb, director of economic development and placemaking for Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency.

Rochester Rated Top 5 Best Places to Live in the Country

Rochester, Minnesota continues its high ranking in Livability’s 2019 Top 100 Best Places to Live, placing 5th and a jump up four spaces from 2018.

The publication notes: “While Rochester may be best known for its famous hospital, which draws patients, doctors and researchers from all over the world, this city is so much more than that. There’s a growing food scene and plenty of community events to keep residents entertained. And for a relatively small city, Rochester has a great public transportation system. Its bus system has 40 weekday routes. Skyways and pedestrian subways connect buildings downtown. If you’re car-free, Rochester has 85 (!) miles of interconnected trails that are available for pedestrian, bike, wheelchair and stroller use.”

Livability also acknowledges the community for being incredibly civic-minded.

“It’s no surprise that Rochester is consistently listed in the top 10 of Livability and many other rankings,” notes Lisa Clarke, executive director, Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency. “High quality of life, a growing, innovative business climate, and top-notch healthcare, are just a few examples of what makes Rochester special.”

Rochester is in good company. WalletHub says Minnesota ranks first when it comes to the best place for women to live in the United States.

 

Business Innovation with an “Eye” on Improving Vision

If eyes are the window to the world, Timothy W. Olsen, M.D. is building high performance window frames. With a passion for restoring vision, the ophthalmologist set sights on developing and bringing to market a first-of-its-kind device for treating age-related macular degeneration. The synergies around the Destination Medical Center economic initiative and Mayo Clinic’s research and practice community prompted him to move his business and clinical/surgical practice from Atlanta to Rochester, Minnesota.

“The business environment is second to none. Mayo has made a statement through Destination Medical Center that it wants to be an innovation center for medical technology,” says Dr. Olsen.  “That combination of business, technology and connection to Medical Alley bio businesses in Minnesota makes this is a really good place to develop and commercialize medical devices.”

Destination Medical Center is a 20-year, multibillion dollar public-private partnership to position Rochester as a global destination for health care, biotechnology and life science discoveries. The money supports public infrastructure and does not go to Mayo Clinic. The convergence of entrepreneurship, medical expertise and regulatory support, Dr. Olsen says, is the perfect place for a successful product launch.

“Destination Medical Center is the City of Rochester, Olmsted County and the state of Minnesota. With those components, hopefully there will be private sector support as well as the opportunity for engaging with people involved in funding early stage start-up companies, including venture capital funding opportunities,” says Dr. Olsen.

A new device for age-related macular degeneration

Macular degeneration affects more than 3 million Americans and is the leading cause of vision loss for people over 50. There is no cure or treatment in the early stages. Patients with end-stage macular degeneration may be suitable for monthly eye injections, but that is expensive and inconvenient. The disease process usually progresses despite the injections.   

That’s where Dr. Olsen’s business comes in. His team is advancing research on a surgically implantable device, using a technology that was first conceived at the University of Minnesota and patented through Emory University. That device acts as a window or picture frame holding regenerative tissue in place to support the macula at the back of the eye, potentially reversing vision loss and preserving the function of the macula.  

The National Institutes of Health/National Eye Institute awarded a Small Business Technology Transfer grant for a one year, phase one feasibility study. The grant goes directly to Dr. Olsen’s company, located in the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator, with sub grant funding for pre-clinical research at Mayo.

“The goal of this research grant is to support scientists launching commercialization of a product rather than the researcher studying technology from an outside company, in an effort to speed the movement of a product from the research lab into the marketplace,” says Dr. Olsen.