Health care entrepreneur: ‘Gap between academia and industry needs to be closed’

Danny Farin, a leading entrepreneur in the field of health care and a TAU graduate, links business companies to medicine and life sciences faculties.

 Danny Farin. (photo credit: DANNY FARIN/TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY)
Danny Farin.

“Today, there is a gap between academia and industry, and I believe that this gap must be narrowed as much as possible,” said Danny Farin, a serial entrepreneur in the healthcare field and Tel Aviv University alumnus, who, as part of a collaboration with the TAU Alumni Association, will conduct lectures to introduce graduates to the field.

“The purpose of the lectures is to expose the organization’s graduates to the fields of knowledge and skills required in the health industry,” explained Farin. “It is true in academia and business, and it is certainly the case in healthcare, which connects people from different disciplines who are not always fully aware of how things actually work in the industry and the global market.”

Currently, Farin is the CEO and co-founder of Perflow Medical, recently acquired by a large private equity fund, which has developed and commercialized groundbreaking technology for the treatment of ischemic strokes caused by blood clots. He also serves as chairman and co-founder of CVAid Medical, which developed an AI-based solution for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke events. Additionally, he was also a co-founder and CEO of Eon Surgical, which developed a minimally invasive microsurgical system and was sold to the American corporation Teleflex in 2013.

“Today, there is a gap between academia and industry, and I believe that this gap must be narrowed as much as possible.”

Danny Farin

Farin hopes to use his vast experience to connect academia and industry. “The goal is to understand how to create an interface that is not only theoretical or ideological, but how to create an interface that meets the basic human need of interests,” he explained.

“The goal is to create a common language between the faculties of medicine and life sciences with companies and investors in the field in order to create a partnership between the knowledge that exists in academia and the capabilities that exist in industry, and to make a connection with the money that seeks profitable investments.”

What Farin studied

FARIN BEGAN his business career while studying at Tel Aviv University. “I began my career while studying for an MBA. After completing a bachelor’s degree in biotechnology engineering with a specialization in biomedicine, I combined the scientific-professional knowledge and the managerial knowledge I acquired through my MBA at TAU, and worked in advising companies in the biotech field to create international collaborations and promote projects in innovation.”

 Tel Aviv University.  (credit: TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY) Tel Aviv University. (credit: TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY)

During this period, in 2009, he co-founded Eon Surgical, and says the university played a significant role in the company’s success in achieving early-stage investments.

“I attended a hi-tech entrepreneurship course with Zohar Zisapel, who is one of the founding fathers of the hi-tech industry in Israel,” he said. “The students in Zisapel’s course included salespeople, programmers and people like me from the life sciences field, and he showed how to take your field of expertise and create business value. In order to demonstrate it, he didn’t just explain the theory, but he invited several experienced serial entrepreneurs as lecturers to each of the classes to tell their stories and share the experience of how to take an idea and turn it into solid realistic value.

“At the end of the course, we were permitted to choose between taking an exam or creating a sample presentation on raising capital. I gave our company’s [Eon Surgical] presentation in class, and Zohar introduced me to his brother, Yehuda Zisapel, and his wife, Prof. Nava Zisapel, who had created Rad Biomed, a biotech incubator. They liked the idea and led the first fundraising round,” Farin said.

“Eon Surgical developed the next generation of a system of minimally invasive surgeries in the abdomen,” he explained, saying that “it is micro-laparoscopy. While standard laparoscopy makes incisions, we have developed a method in which there is no need for incisions at all. We simply assemble tools over the tips of needles and operate them externally. There was great interest expressed by all of the big players in the market from the very beginning, and in the end, the company was acquired in 2013 by Teleflex Medical, and it became the flagship product of their surgical division.”

FARIN EXPLAINED that after the acquisition of Eon Surgical, he had time on his hands and was looking for new and interesting ideas. “I met with two engineers who developed the initial concept of Perflow, which I manage today.” The company has developed controllable braided stents whose geometric properties can be controlled from the outside, including the ability to expand or decrease their diameter.

“I liked the idea very much, but more importantly, I had great chemistry with the two engineers who were to become my partners and co-founders – Gilad Cibulski and Avraham Rappaport. I also met with some key opinion leaders in the industry, and I understood that the field of neuro-vascular intervention has developed a great deal, and that this is a technology that can fit the appropriate clinical indications,” he said.

“We started the funding rounds in January 2014, when all the investors who were with us at Eon also participated in the first round, and since then, we have completed several funding rounds,” Farin said. “The company today has more than 60 employees across different disciplines, several products and global sales. I see it as a triumph of Israeli industry. All production and development processes are done in Israel, and of course, the company leadership is based in Israel.

Entrepreneurship in the health field is a combination of economic feasibility and improving (or saving) lives,” the serial entrepreneur said. “There are quite a few ideas that started big and failed, but on the other hand, there have been small ideas that turned out to be very successful. Ultimately, it must have a real and solid clinical impact on the one hand, while also showing strong business and monetary rationale.

“Beyond that, it is very important to understand the vast spectrum of factors that are unique to the medical field, whether it is technology, patents, regulation, clinical trials, reimbursement, commercialization or how much you have to invest in order to create tangible clinical-business value.”

About the Tel Aviv University Alumni Organization

Tel Aviv University has over 200,000 alumni, many of whom are top players and leaders in all sectors of Israel’s economy and society, holding key positions in law, hi-tech, hospitals, media, education and, of course, academia. TAU Alumni Organization’s goal is to leverage the influence of TAU alumni as a force contributing to Israeli society and to strengthen the university’s global reputation. It strives to serve alumni by sharing knowledge, promoting professional networking, and creating inspiring, valuable opportunities. The mission of the TAUAO is to form and cultivate a world-changing community.

Translated by Alan Rosenbaum

Written in cooperation with Tel Aviv University.