InnovHeart nabs J&J, Haemonetics alum to lead mitral system maker as CEO

Fresh off a $55 million funding round and already on its way to ushering its latest transcatheter mitral valve replacement (TMVR) system into clinical trials, InnovHeart has scooped up a new CEO to oversee that progress.

The Milan- and Boston-based company tapped David Wilson for the job, it announced Wednesday. As both chief executive and an executive member of its board of directors, he’ll be tasked with leading InnovHeart through the process of bringing its transseptal Saturn TMVR system first to clinical trials. If approved by regulatory agencies, the system could compete in the commercial market against devices from medtech giants like Abbott and Medtronic, the latter of which is still awaiting FDA sign-off on its own TMVR system.

The Saturn system is placed in the heart to treat mitral regurgitation, in which the mitral valve between the left ventricle and the left atrium doesn’t properly close, allowing blood to flow in the wrong direction back into the heart. InnovHeart’s first iteration of the system was transapical, meaning that it was implanted in the heart using a catheter sent through an incision in the chest; in the new, transseptal approach, the catheter is instead fed through the femoral vein.

“We have been encouraged by the outstanding medium-term results of the transapical system, and we fully anticipate that the best-in-class hemodynamics will be reflected in the first-in-human implantation of the same Saturn valve transeptally,” said Keith Dawkins, M.D., chairman of the company’s board. “David’s range of leadership skills will further enhance the commitment, drive and engineering prowess of the strong InnovHeart team.”

Wilson is joining InnovHeart fresh off a stint at Haemonetics, developer of blood and plasma collection technologies. In his nearly half a decade there, he served as global president of the company’s plasmapheresis and software business.

Prior to that, he spent more than two decades within several of Johnson & Johnson’s medical device subsidiaries. After beginning his career with more than a decade’s worth of positions at vascular devicemaker Cordis, he was tapped first for a worldwide vice president role at surgical tech developer Ethicon and then as global president of Mentor Worldwide’s plastic surgery business.

Wilson’s time at J&J culminated with a return to Cordis as worldwide president in 2015, just in time to guide the company through its $1.9 billion sale to Cardinal Health. (Cardinal has since sold off the subsidiary in a $1 billion deal with private equity firm Hellman & Friedman that was completed last year.)

“I am excited to join the talented team at InnovHeart at this pivotal time of focus and commitment to significantly advancing transcatheter mitral valve replacement procedures enabled by our transformational Saturn platform,” Wilson said. “The innovative Saturn technology has the potential to be life-changing for patients with regurgitant mitral valves, and I’m eager to further the clinical validation of the transseptal Saturn system.”

InnovHeart’s leadership switch-up comes just a few months after it closed a series C funding round of about $55 million—but that total could go up based on royalties earned once the round’s leader Grand Pharmaceutical Group makes good on an exclusive licensing agreement to sell the Saturn system in China.