Did you hear that Bill Gates visited MIT and helped researchers invent a new birth control device that lasts 16 years?
If you’ve been online at all in July, you may have stumbled across that rather intriguing story. “Bill Gates Wants to Turn Your Birth Control on With a Remote,” read the headline on Gizmodo, a gadget site.
But the real story of the implantable birth control device is even more amazing. The MIT-spawned startup that has been developing it, MicroChips, has been around since 1999. It has raised north of $75 million in venture capital and grant funding — and has still not gotten a product past the federal approval process for medical devices or booked a dollar of revenue. It has been through four chief executives, and just last week hired its fifth. It once employed about 40 people, before shedding all but two.
And now, in part thanks to Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, the Lexington company is growing again, and hoping to get a new kind of birth control device onto the market as soon as 2018. The company is back up to 10 employees, and it may soon outgrow its Lexington office. Read more in my latest Innovation Economy column in the Sunday Globe.