ST. LOUIS — With a financial boost from Arch Grants, a local medical device company aims to help doctors more closely monitor patients receiving infusions at home.
The company, HIVE, is one of 23 companies to receive funding in this year’s cohort. Arch Grants, a St. Louis-based seed funding program, announced more than $2 million to startups and start-ups on Friday.
This year, Arch Grants selected a small group of companies, but more money for each. Last year, 35 businesses received $50,000, plus an additional $10,000 for out-of-town businesses that moved to St. Louis. This year, 23 businesses received $75,000, plus $25,000 for those that moved here.
Gabe Angieri, executive director of Arch Grants, said the program isn’t just about attracting businesses to the area that will hire locals and spend money in the community. It’s also about investing in the people who will lead St. Louis businesses for decades to come.
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“This is the next generation of business leaders for St. Louis,” Angieri said. “We see our goal as not just driving economic development, but investing in the people who run these businesses.”
The geospatial and agtech sectors are well represented in this year’s cohort, as are medical device companies, such as HIVE.
HIVE co-founder and CEO Joe Beggs said he originally wanted to start a company that helped people organize their pills. But he quickly realized that there are already many products on the market that perform this function. Then, at an event hosted by student-run business incubator Sling Health, he spoke with an infectious disease doctor who described an interesting problem: some of his patients who were receiving antibiotics intravenously at home arrived sicker at their follow-up appointments. The doctor could not tell if he was prescribing the wrong drugs or if the patients were simply not taking them.
Around the same time, Beggs’ cousin was being treated for an infection. He was missing doses of his antibiotics. His condition worsened and he had to be hospitalized.
“That’s really where HIVE got personal for me,” Beggs said. “We need to find a better monitoring solution.”
Beggs’ cousin has since made a full recovery.
HIVE will soon begin a usability study of its prototype device with 15 patients. The study will be in partnership with BJC Home Infusion and the Washington University School of Medicine. HIVE plans to continue this study with two others, on 60 patients in 2023 and 300 patients in 2024.
HIVE has developed a prototype device – a small white cylindrical piece that clips onto the end of the patient’s arm IV port. It detects each time the patient connects or disconnects the line. HIVE provides a router that sends this information to the home health agency in real time.
The device costs just $15 to manufacture, Beggs said, but for home health agency staff, the ability to quickly see if patients are taking their medications as prescribed could be a game-changer.
“With the shortage of nurses we are experiencing today, this will allow nurses to quickly identify the patients who need it the most,” Beggs said.
Although the idea was originally for patients receiving antibiotics for infections, through conversations with a home infusion provider, HIVE discovered that their product could also be suitable for people receiving chemotherapy, dialysis and other infusions.
The company started in St. Louis, then moved to Chicago for less than a year to join mHUB, an accelerator. This fall, the company returned to St. Louis, although it still has operations in Chicago. Today, the company has four employees and six subcontractors.
Beggs said he hopes to bring the device to market in late 2023 or early 2024.
Beggs, 25, grew up in Kelso, Missouri, about 10 miles south of Cape Girardeau. As a child, he knew St. Louis as “the place to go for a Cardinals game once a year.”
His company will receive $100,000 under the Arch Grants program. Although it still maintains some operations in Chicago, HIVE now works primarily from BioSTL and the Spark coworking space downtown.
“It’s kind of like the red carpet has been rolled out,” he said. “I feel so humbled.”