Rowan Innovation Venture Fund backs a local company reinventing surgical closure

Rowan Innovation Venture Fund backs a local company reinventing surgical closure

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A $200,000 investment by the Rowan Innovation Venture Fund for a minimally invasive surgery medical device is translating into $2 million for a Philadelphia firm headed by a Camden County inventor/entrepreneur/businessman.

In February, RIVF awarded its third and largest investment to ZSX Medical, LLC, a University City-based health care/life sciences firm that has developed Zip-Stitch™, a simple, safe and fast method that replaces sutures in laparoscopic surgical procedures.

“We were able to leverage Rowan’s investment of $200,000 with the angel community led by Keiretsu Forum Mid-Atlantic and with individual investors, and so we are in the midst of closing a round that will go up to $1.5 million dollars,” said ZSX President and CEO Dan Mazzucco, Ph.D. “In addition, the National Science Foundation has offered $500,000 to match some of the investment that comes in, so Rowan’s $200,000 actually becomes 10 times that.”

“From the perspective of bringing investment dollars into the local community, it’s great,” said Mazzucco. “Investments such as these make a company much more likely to succeed and to produce returns back for the fund.”

ZSX, a pre-clinical-stage medical device development company, is completing the development of Zip-Stitch™, a breakthrough platform of surgical closure products designed specifically for use in closing internal surgical incisions, with a particular focus on women’s health. Zip-Stitch™ is designed to be simple and intuitive to use, which is critical in minimally invasive surgery, while achieving a superior closure compared to sutures, leading to savings in time and costs.

The mission of ZSX is to re-invent surgical closure in women’s health by reducing pelvic adhesive disease, minimizing tissue damage, decreasing operative time and freeing surgeons to focus on safe and effective surgery. ZSX believes that making surgeons’ work easier will help patients, save hospitals money and reduce overall healthcare costs.

Mazzucco, of Haddon Heights, New Jersey, holds a Ph.D. from Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts of Technology in medical and mechanical engineering, and has been in the medical device industry for 16 years. Prior to founding ZSX, Mazzucco brought a surgical device and drug from first-time manufacture through two Phase III clinical trials.

Joining Mazzucco as a principal in the firm is COO Eric Rugart, of Wayne, Pennsylvania. Through his company, Feta Med, Rugart sells medical products to hospitals across the United States. He holds a B.A. in economics from the University of Pennsylvania.

The pair began their application to RIVF in May 2015 and underwent an extensive due diligence process.

“ZSX is exactly the type of firm the Venture Fund was designed to invest in,” said Tony Calabrese, chairman of the Fund’s Board of Managers. “The Fund is committed to supporting strong proposals that will address real-world problems, have the potential to reach the marketplace and contribute to the economy of our region.”

Mazzucco, who is one of the inventors of the device and has a patent for a heart valve he developed in graduate school, said he sought input from numerous physicians, especially surgeons, regarding their needs.

“To make a difference in surgical products and get investments, you need a big problem. When we went to surgeons and asked, ‘What is your problem?’ we heard over and over that hysterectomy closure is really difficult. We then worked with a number of scientists to come up with a solution,” he said.

ZSX currently is in the pre-clinical testing phase. “The financing that the Rowan Innovation Venture Fund is participating in will get us through this FDA clearance process,” explained Mazzucco, who noted that the process should be completed around the end of the year. After that, the company will manufacture the devices in the United States and will be able to start selling them in partnership with a large medical device manufacturer.

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The RIVF was created to support researchers, entrepreneurs, business owners and others in South Jersey, including Rowan faculty, students, staff and alumni as well as South Jersey area businesses. RIVF’s goals include accelerating the growth of Rowan’s research initiatives and fostering initiatives of South Jersey companies, whether technologies, intellectual property, inventions or businesses.

A board of managers, comprising seasoned business leaders, oversees RIVF. Long-time technology leader and private equity professional Howard Lubert manages the fund.

The RIVF accepts applications on a rolling basis at its online DealRoom located at https://RowanVentureFund.proseeder.com. For more information, visit www.rowan.edu/venturefund or contact Howard Lubert at HLubert@RowanVentureFund.com.