Miami-based CorQuest Medical sold to Cardio3 BioSciences

Serge Elkiner is the CEO of Yellow Pepper and co-founder of CorQuest Medical.
Serge Elkiner is the CEO of Yellow Pepper and co-founder of CorQuest Medical.

A South Florida entrepreneur and a former University of Miami heart surgeon teamed up two and half years ago to create a medical device company for cardiac surgery. Now CorQuest Medical has been sold to a publicly traded Belgian company that aims to take its technology to market.

CorQuest Medical of Miami, which specializes in developing medical equipment and technologies that facilitate minimally invasive cardiac surgical procedures, was purchased by Cardio3 BioSciences, a biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of regenerative and protective therapies for the treatment of cardiac diseases. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

CorQuest was founded by a pair of Belgians: Dr. Didier De Cannière, a professor of surgery in Brussels and formerly director of Minimally Invasive and Robotic Cardiothoracic Surgery at UM, and Serge Elkiner, an entrepreneur and CEO of Miami-based YellowPepper, a fast-growing provider of mobile-banking and payment solutions in Latin America.

“He came to me and said ‘look, I have this patent and I think it is a pretty good idea but I just don’t know how to build a company,’ ” said Elkiner. “When he showed me the idea, which is completely different than what existed today, and the benefits it would bring the patients, I told him I would help him.”

The company raised angel money, built a prototype of the device, did animal testing and has been quietly developing its technology with a team of three in Miami and board member Dr. Pedro Martinez-Clark, an interventional cardiologist in South Florida, plus a team of engineers in Belgium and France. CorQuest was part of an emerging but fast growing medical device industry in South Florida; there are nearly 150 device companies in Miami-Dade and Broward.

“Since Serge showed me the technology, I knew CorQuest was onto something important in the medical device space. This shows another example that healthcare companies like Mako Surgical, CorQuest and others, can have a bright future in South Florida,” said Dr. Stewart B. Davis, CEO of Bioceptive and a South Florida medical device serial entrepreneur and angel investor.

The companies said CorQuest's technology, currently in the advanced pre-clinical development phase, enables cardiologists to take a unique access route directly to the patient's left atrium and therefore has the potential to become a breakthrough innovation for therapeutic indications such as mitral valve disorders and structural heart disease, conditions often linked to heart failure.

Cardio3 BioSciences, which first learned of CorQuest at a conference, aims to obtain European approval by the end of 2016, which would allow commercialization of the device in Europe. The first indication to be targeted with the CorQuest technology is expected to be the repair or replacement of the mitral valve.

The global market of cardiac medical devices is expected to total $65.6 billion in 2015, with an annual growth rate of 9.8 percent.

“With their track record in device and therapeutic development, I am confident that Cardio3 BioSciences will successfully bring CorQuest's technology to physicians and, ultimately to patients,” said De Cannière, who will remain involved in the company.

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