Lawrence Gerrans, Co-founder, Chairman, CEO & President of Sanovas, Inc., is a multi-faceted personality, who began his medical device career as a Total Joint Replacement Specialist for Depuy Orthopaedics (Johnson & Johnson) and further went on to play an active role in the innovation and deployment of MIS techniques, devices and implants for the burgeoning endoscopic market. Lawrence also pioneered the Endo-Suite and Digital Operating Room technologies for Stryker and Smith & Nephew, respectively, and architected one of the first electronic operative notes systems; leading to the rise of electronic medical records. As Cofounder of Sanovas, Lawrence is currently leading the next generation of interventional pulmonary science.
To know more about his perspective on the existing healthcare scenario, personal journey, offerings of Sanovas Inc. and his source of inspiration, Mirror Review chats with Lawrence ‘Larry’ Gerrans.
What is the present day scenario of the healthcare industry? To what extent, does the healthcare sector define a nation’s progress and economy?
We are witnessing the greatest advances in innovation and in the delivery of care in healthcare in the history of mankind. This is evidenced by the emergence of communications, computing, information technology, the internet, cellular communications and social media in bringing our world together over the past 30 years.
In 2000, advanced medical technologies catered to a limited global population of about 750 milllion upper and middle class workers, largely comprised of Americans, Europeans, Canadians, and Japanese. Essentially, Western democracies who understood the correlation between health, wealth and taxation. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), by 2020, the global middle and upper class populations will have mushroomed to more than 3.1 billion people. By 2030, the global middle & upper class will equate to more than 4.9 billion people.
Emerging democracies and markets are seeing extraordinary growth in the number of people who can go on the internet, find a “Symptom Checker”, diagnose their disease state, get educated about their health or that of a loved one and find a doctor who can treat them at a price they can afford. Never in the history of mankind has this been possible.
As to how we define a nation’s progress or economy? Health is Wealth. There is, without question, a direct correlation between the wealth of a society and the health of its citizens. Healthy citizens are working citizens. Working citizens are tax payers and consumers. This directly translates to the gross domestic product (GDP) of a country, to the intelligence and education of its citizens and to the wealth of its society, in general.
Tell us about your company and its unique range of services. In the modern era of technology, how Sanovas has adapted to those changes in its working ecosystem?
Sanovas is advancing the next generation of minimally invasive medical devices and Interventional Drug Delivery and Precison Medicine therapies to cure cancers and to treat acute and chronic diseases.
Sanovas has focused its inspiration on being a company of cures not pills. We are working on definitive solutions that can treat cancers and diseases in one or more treatments over the short term. This is the right approach to both the cost and care paradigms in healthcare.
We are developing advanced interventional tools and technologies which are affordable and portable. We believe this is the best approach to reducing the cost burden of acute and chronic diseases on the GDP of nations and to delivering care to these emerging markets and the burgeoning global middle class. It is a disruptive approach that flies in the face of Big Pharma and Big Money. However, it is the right thing for our citizens globally and to the economies of nations.
Nobody and no country should carry the cost burden of expensive, long-term medical treatments and the perpetual utilization of drugs and pharmaceuticals that create secondary disease states and that can lead to chronic, degenerative and debilitating health.
Our readers would love to know about your personal journey. What attracted you to start a venture in the healthcare sector?
I love solving problems and helping people. One of the greatest forms of giving is to help someone you do not know and who does not know you. I take great pride in knowing that many of the technologies and surgical procedures I have developed, helped develop and am currently developing are curing people. I have seen the impact of how medicine can change people’s lives. I have personally experienced the impact that a strong knowledge in medicine can have on saving a loved one’s life. I saved my father’s life and am proud that he is still here for us. Nothing is more gratifying in life than to make a vital contribution to the life of another. It takes three miracles to become a saint, not that I am one. However, the aspiration to do saintly things is a higher calling that all should aspire to in life. I am grateful, thankful and feel truly blessed to be able to live my religion in my profession and to know that I serve our God and my fellow man every waking day of my life. This is my humble journey.
As a prolific leader of a prominent healthcare company, what role do you play in its operations and growth?
The role that I try to play is that of an innovator and problem solver. First, I try to contribute meaningful solutions that lower the cost of care and that expand access to care to more people, globally. Our global population is growing extraordinarily fast. Existing and emerging markets require affordable, portable solutions to treats their citizens efficiently and effectively and to keep them producing for their families and countries. I view my role, primarily, is to create ‘Technologies for the Masses’.
Toward that end, we have been extraordinarily tenacious, perseverant and creative. We started Sanovas in the worst economy in modern history. Consequently, I had to create entirely new methods to drive capital formation. The U.S. financial sector has largely abandoned investment in innovation. It is also losing its pioneering leadership in medical innovation because our government and capital markets have grown averse to ‘Development Risk’. Moreover, our regulatory systems have become bloated and expensive. The cost of FDA clearance has exploded by more than 700% on average. The public/private sector partnerships that stimulate capital formation in emerging growth companies has gone missing since the end of the dotcom boom. R&D tax credits and capital gains tax concessions on investment capital have been rolled back. Today, there is no stimulus or reward for innovation capital in America anymore.
Corporations and high networth individuals no longer support medical innovation in America, which is a real loss, considering how fast the global medical market is growing. As a result, I have had to write legislation, ‘The IPO Pipeline Act of 2018’ and lobby congress for focused stimulus in innovation capital before China completes its takeover of the healthcare sector and the profit potentials ahead. We have a real crisis in government and leadership in this matter.
As a result, we have funded Sanovas through the investment support of my personal network of friends and family. We have pioneered ‘Social Finance’ and the use of ‘Self Directed IRA Investing’ to build a global company by the people for the people! On one hand, it has been very gratifying to know that we have created great potential to help build and grow my friends and families retirement savings. This has been a pioneering feat and a very important pursuit to restore the ‘Democratization of Capital’. When you stop and realize that the average amount of savings in the U.S. is approximately $13,000 per person, we have a real crisis on our hands with respect to retirement in America. We are walking ourselves into a social welfare state. People should be able to retire with their financial security and dignity intact. That is not the case, or the reality, for Americans right now. Nonetheless, I am excited to be stewarding the promise and the example of the model for how America can invest in medical innovation and save for their retirement. Though, I strongly feel that more stimulus and incentive is needed. We need to bring the Micro and Small Cap market sectors back if we are going to create long term growth, diversity and security in our economy.
On the other hand, pioneering this model has been expensive and time consuming to the growth of our business. We have had to run two parallel organizations, concurrently. We have had to run a development operation in parallel to a fundraising operation. This is an uncommon organizational structure. It has required incredible situational awareness and situational agility in management. Moreover, it is tough on both employees and investors. UC Berkeley’s Fung Institute has done a case study on us. Sanovas ‘Social Finance’ model is highly disruptive to the current financial ecosystem. In time, I think we can integrate it constructively. For now, however, we are being seen and treated as a disruptive force to the status quo in institutional finance.
How do you tackle professional crisis?
My career in Life Science and in the pursuit of a cure for cancer has taught me that cancer is much more than just a physiologic phenomenon. Cancer is an ethereal force. In the Sanovas experience, we have seen it infect shareholders and employees, literally and figuratively. We are just recovering from the loss of one of our best employees due to recurrent breast cancer. She was only 52. It was just tragic to live through her journey. We have seen employees crack under the pressure, and who could not bear the uncertainty, of the ebbs and flows of our fundraising cycles.
Professionally, I fight cancer on both plains, daily. I never know what cancer is going to throw at me or my people from one day to the next. Professional and personal adversity is a constant in this life. It has become a life quest.
The crisis I face require a resolve and a spirituality that is uncommon to most. I remain positive. Nothing is ever as bad as you think and nothing is ever as great as you think. I never get too high or too low emotionally. Science and medicine require objective, evidence based thoughts and actions. My existence has taught me to be situationally aware and situationally agile. Hindsight is 20/20. I try to be foresighted and to understand the impact of what’s happening now on the future. I also measure everything because if you do not measure, you cannot manage.
How does your company stand apart from its competitors? And what are your future milestones for Sanovas?
Sanovas is a one-of-a-kind, once in a lifetime, trailblazing company. We have innovated our existence at every turn. Right from intellectual property, to engineering, to finance, to organizational structure, to shareholder value, Sanovas has and is among one of the only company’s that has emerged from and survived the economic recession. We have done it through shear determination. You cannot fail, if you do not quit!
At our core and in the purest sense, Sanovas is competitively differentiated in that we imagine and we re-invent entire procedures to make them safer and more efficacious and, as related, to be able to make those procedures affordable and portable. The future of medicine is office and field based. That is central to our focus.
My future milestones would be regulatory achievement, commercialization and globalization. More importantly, the cure for cancer is our highest priority!
On a personal note, who was your source of inspiration during the start of your professional career? Whom would you like to dedicate your success?
My High School Algebra Teacher – ‘Super’ Joe Orth. Super Joe was a Jesuit Priest. He lives in a Bird sanctuary and is an American Poet Laureate. He understood life and people in their simplest terms. He mentored and taught me the essence of life’s journey. I dedicate my success to my family and to my friends who believe in me and who care for me in the same way I care for them. The reciprocity of love and devotion is the purest of emotions and I enjoy being in that place.