Sept. 13, 2011
FRAMINGHAM, Mass. — With a quick snip of a large blue ribbon and a round of applause, Gov. Deval Patrick welcomed the first of what he hopes will be many Israeli companies to the Commonwealth.
"This isn't happening by accident," Patrick said to a crowd gathered at the MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham. "This is all part of a broader strategy, a jobs growth strategy that we've pursued here in the Commonwealth for many years now."
Patrick took an envoy of the state's top business, academic and technology leaders on a trade mission to Israel and the United Kingdom last March, hoping to woo businesses to the state. That's where he says he met EarlySense CEO Avner Halperin.
"He told us about his company and what they had been doing and their interest in expanding here in the Commonwealth. And we were all over them, as my grandmother would say, 'like white on rice,'" Patrick said.
Avner Halperin said he was debating where to open a U.S. headquarters, but his decision was made after he met with Patrick's full-court press, Halperin says the decision was clear. They were heading to Waltham.
"We heard a lot about the different opportunities for medical device companies working here in Massachusetts and the energy of the medical device cluster here in Massachusetts. And that was very important for us in making this decision," Halperin said.
The other important thing, Halperin added, is the high quality of medical institutions operating here in the Bay State.
A medical device company, EarlySense is exactly the type of business Gov. Patrick was aiming to attract. EarlySense makes a new type of medical monitoring equipment, called the EarlySense system. The system uses a highly sensitive motion sensor placed under a mattress to monitor a patient's vital signs, like heart rate, respiratory rates and movement. An algorithm deciphers between the three.
That information feeds back to a nurses' station in real time, alerting medical personnel of any serious changes.
"For example, if the patient tries to get out of bed when he's not supposed to — he may fall out of bed — there is an alert generated. Or if the patient starts to deteriorate, something is wrong with the heart or respiratory, the system can send an alert." said Halperin.
The EarlySense system, which costs $200,000, is already being used to help monitor close to 10,000 patients in about 10 hospitals in the United States and Europe. One of those locations is the MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham, where about 30 systems are already in use.
Andrei Soran, CEO of MetroWest Medical Center, said the system helped save a life in their first week of deployment.
"The vital signs for the patient were changing significantly at a very fast pace that was impossible to catch at the regular visits of the nurse," Soran said. "The patient was having a heart attack and that was caught. The patient was transferred to critical care and lived to tell the story." Soran said.
EarlySense expects to hire ten employees by the end of the year, then ten to twenty employees annually — and more if business booms. While it's a small victory for Patrick, he says it's all part of his plan to keep Massachusetts at the forefront of job growth.
"We're growing jobs faster than 46 other states in America. Our unemployment is coming down. It's well below the national unemployment rate. We have more distance to travel, but we're making progress," Patrick said.
Progress, one international company at a time.
MORE GREATER BOSTON
Sign-up for WGBH Food & Wine updates, WGBH promotions, and previews of what's coming up on WGBH TV.