case western reserve university



Case agrees to exclusive licensing agreement with NDI Medical

Case Western Reserve University has signed an exclusive agreement with NDI Medical to license technology developed at the university for use in creating a bladder control device.

“We are extremely pleased to have entered into this agreement with Case,” said Geoff Thrope, president of NDI Medical. “This cements our relationship with the university and gives us the green light to proceed with commercializing this promising technology.” Case partnered with MetroHealth Medical Center and the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in the development of the technology.

The technology reduces urinary incontinence through an implanted device that delivers electrical stimulation to a sensory reflex nerve that controls the urge to urinate. According to Thrope, about 16 million people in the United States. experience some degree of urinary incontinence.

“The goal of this therapy is to bring relief to people who experience frequent, significant urges to urinate,” Thrope said. He added that trials involving the temporary implant of the device have been going on for about two years. Trials using permanent implants will begin in about a year, and the company hopes to have the product commercially available in three to four years.

NDI has received more than $6 million in funding from state and federal sources, including through the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and Ohio’s Third Frontier Action Fund. “NDI Medical is the type of company the Third Frontier Action Fund was designed to help,” said Jennifer Ruggles, project administrator in the technology

division of the Ohio Department of Development. “It is commercializing an exciting technology that was developed in Ohio and has the potential to create new jobs for Ohioans.”

“We have never had this kind of resource before and with help from NDI Medical, we are striving to make Ohio the neurostimulation capital,” said P. Hunter Peckham, professor of biomedical engineering and executive director of the Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) Center.

The technology underlying the device was developed by three Case researchers who also co-founded NDI Medical: Warren Grill, formerly an assistant professor of biomedical engineering in the Case School of Engineering and now an adjunct professor; Kenneth Gustafson, assistant professor of biomedical engineering; and Graham Creasey, associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Case School of Medicine, Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center and MetroHealth Medical Center.

A 1979 graduate of the Case School of Engineering, Thrope has had a long association with the biomedical engineering department and its current chair, Patrick Crago, and with many of the faculty.

“I am elated by this agreement,” said Crago. “Our goal of commercializing the medical innovations of our faculty and students is validated by achieving this new licensing agreement. It bodes well for future collaborations with industry.”

The business plan for NDI won the Weatherhead School of Management’s 2002 Business Launch Competition. The company was founded shortly afterwards with the support of Case’s Office of Technology Transfer.

“NDI Medical is a great Case success story,” said Michael Haag, senior licensing manager for life sciences. “It is a company that has its roots at Case and is using technology developed at Case. We think it will be the model for many future spinoffs.”


About Case Western Reserve University

Case is among the nation's leading research institutions. Founded in 1826 and shaped by the unique merger of the Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University, Case is distinguished by its strengths in education, research, service, and experiential learning. Located in Cleveland, Case offers nationally recognized programs in the Arts and Sciences, Dental Medicine, Engineering, Law, Management, Medicine, Nursing, and Social Work.