It is a nightmare scenario for the parents of 1.3 million newborns fighting congenital heart disease (CHD) each year. Infants born with abnormal heart conditions not only have to deal with immediate surgeries, but they often have to go through repeated surgeries as they grow.
Ajay Houde, a chemistry PhD by training, wanted to change this narrative and help move the pediatrics space forward. After building his corporate career, Houde jumped into the startup space with Annoviant, an Alpharetta-based medical device company.
Together with his co-founder Naren Vyavahare, Houde started Annoviant in 2018 to build new applications for new soft tissue healing technology. The startup’s first product, TxGuard, is a Pulmonary Valved Graft that uses tissue healing and regenerative technology for valve replacements and other key surgeries.
While regenerative tissue has a variety of surgical applications, Houde said Annoviant is particularly focused on cardiovascular work in the beginning. The goal, he said, is to ensure children do not have to worry about rejected tissue following heart surgery because Annoviant literally grows with the patient.
“There is no question about rejection. There’s no question about compatibility,” he said. “we’re also addressing some of the clinical challenges…Our technology will allow us to avoid repeat surgeries.”
The Local Medical Device Landscape
Houde moved to Atlanta in 1999 to work with Kimberly Clark Healthcare, but he decided to move into the startup world when he realized that the pediatric market was often overlooked by the big players in the medical device space.
The Annoviant team has had several early wins that show its potential to change the medical landscape. The startup has backing from three out of the five FDA-funded Pediatric Device Consortiums, along with several top pediatric hospitals like Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
The startup was also accepted into The Center for MedTech Excellence’s first cohort at Georgia Tech, an accelerator designed to help bring new medical devices and MedTech startups to the commercial market.
The local medical device industry has grown significantly over the last few years, with new startups growing through the help of places like ATDC, Tech Alpharetta, the Center for Global Health Innovation, and Georgia Bio.
Over 550 medical device companies call Georgia home to take advantage of the state’s manufacturing incentives and workforce, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development.