A healthy interest in tech
David Crais has never met a specialty he didn’t like. Well, maybe that’s not true—but as a powerhouse in the burgeoning New Orleans medical technology community, he’s worked in every area, including sales, management, investment banking, administration and lobbying.
Though he majored in history at Loyola University New Orleans and later worked in import and export brokerage, “90% of my work has been in the medical field,” said Crais. “Everything from surgical staples to stem cells.” The CEO and founder of Crais Management Group, Crais has “always been interested in technology.”
Recently, Crais partnered with Rahlyn Gossen, Lem Sanders and Josh Raley to co-found Health2NOLA. Parent entity Health 2.0, based in San Francisco, is an international organization dedicated to showcasing the latest developments in healthcare technology. Having attended Health 2.0 events around the country, Crais knew the organization would be a good fit for New Orleans.
Health2NOLA’s first meeting last month, held downtown at the New Orleans BioInnovation Center, saw four times as many attendees as the founders were expecting. The chapter focuses on creating connections between people who might normally miss opportunities to work together: say, entrepreneurs with a great product and limited capital, and investors looking to back new ideas.
At each Health2NOLA meetup, entrepreneurs will demonstrate new products and technologies. One invention presented at the launch party was a wound camera calibration module for use with wound documentation systems. The app was a collaboration between a certified wound care physician and an award-winning cinematographer.
This type of magic mix is Health2NOLA’s main mission. The organization’s meetups aren’t just lectures, Crais said, but networking opportunities, where hospital administrators can talk with programmers, technicians, medical providers and others working in the medical community.
“Investors always come to New Orleans,” said Crais, reflecting on the frustration he sees in young entrepreneurs trying to get ideas funded. “It’s about, ‘Do you have a team to build your idea?’ and management, not just the product.”
Why is the healthcare tech industry growing in New Orleans? In addition to Louisiana’s digital media tax credits, “We have great resources here,” Crais explained. “When you look at the oil industry, Stennis [Space Center], Michoud, the maritime industry and port systems—in a sense, all of those industries have great IT professionals. We’re beginning to see this technology come over to the medical side…It’s all linked.”
In addition to raising awareness of new technologies and connecting members of the local medical technology community, Crais hopes that Health2NOLA will foster “true commercialization” of local entrepreneurs’ products, with new products and resources available through multiple providers instead of tied to one large corporation.
At the end of September, Crais will represent Health2NOLA at Health 2.0’s national conference in Santa Clara, California.