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Dr. Po-Lin Hsu and her "Heart" of magAssist

In late April, China News walked into the headquarter of magAssist Inc., a domestic technology pioneer in the field of ventricular assist devices and life support systems. The extracorporeal magnetically levitated ventricular assist device developed here is expected to be put on the market in 2023, filling the gap in the domestic market. 

"The epidemic forced us to speed up the company's research and development of our product MoyoAssist® Extra-VAD. It is very likely to enter the clinical trial stage and is expected to be released ahead of schedule," says Dr. Po-Lin Hsu, the founder of magAssist. 

Dr. Po-Lin Hsu has everything that resembles "the girl next door" - approachable and familiar.  It's hard to associate Po-Lin Hsu, 37, with the image of a business founder. She has got a strong and independent character of a scientist yet has already made a name for herself on the road to entrepreneurship.

"In March this year, the company just received a 10 million RMB anti-epidemic loan from the Bank of China Suzhou branch, which is a huge boost for innovative companies like ours," says Po-Lin.  "Actually, I am under a lot of pressure. The more help I get, the more determined I am to create and deliver a high-quality product."

"To develop the first domestic and beyond the international level of short- and medium-term extracorporeal ventricular assist device." This was the original intention of Polin Hsu when she founded magAssist in 2017. After nearly three years of development, magAssist has completed the first MoyoAssist® Extra-VAD engineering prototype in China, realized large animal experiments, and achieved the expected results. At the same time, the company's GMP plant was opened, and it has the first production line of extracorporeal magnetically levitated ventricular assist devices in China.

In the eyes of the outside world, Polin Hsu's entrepreneurial journey has been very smooth. If you have checked out her resume - she has earned a double doctorate from Cambridge University in the UK and RWTH Aachen University in Germany. Since she joined Cambridge University in 2005, she has been engaged in research and development of minimally invasive artificial heart design. In 2013, she returned to China and was appointed as a full-time professor at Soochow University and deputy director of the Institute of Artificial Organ Research. She has since been engaging in research on artificial heart system design and the physiology of electromechanical systems. It is her solid experience where her entrepreneurial confidence lies within.  

Talking about academic gains, Dr. Po-Lin Hsu went humble again: "Gee, I'm not this good! I was just lucky!"  After some chitchat, she explained that while working at the Cardiovascular Institute of RWTH Aachen University in Germany, she was engaged in research on minimally invasive right heart ventricular assist devices as a project leader (PI), and the system she designed has been awarded German and U.S. patents. In 2014, she received the Nose International Scholar Award from the American Society for Artificial Organs, the world's largest artificial organ association, and the only Chinese person to receive the award in ten years.

Every entrepreneur has a different story, and so does Dr. Po-Lin Hsu. "In fact, I was afraid of starting a business at first because of the hardships of my parents' entrepreneurship, which I grew up hearing." In the 1990s, Po-Lin's father moved his business from Taiwan to the mainland. Since junior high school, she spent her summer and winter vacations in Shanghai and Suzhou on the mainland. "But not for pleasure, to work in dad's factory." Po-Lin Hsu stressed that her father's management was very strict, and she had to start from the bottom herself.

As a second-generation Taiwanese businessman, Po-Lin Hsu clearly recognizes where she differs from her father's generation, "Our generation may think more creatively, most entrepreneurs have an international education background and a sharper sense of the market." In Suzhou, just as Po-Lin, there are many second-generation Taiwanese businessmen who choose to work in mainland China. This is inseparable from the good local business environment and preferential policies.

Po-Lin is grateful for her parents' strong support, and she admits that she inherited her father's fighter and winning spirit and her mother's spontaneous and natural frankness. "The artificial heart is one of the most technologically advanced medical devices. Due to the limitation of economic level and technological strength, there is still a gap between China and foreign countries. Therefore, the development of a third-generation ventricular assist device with excellent performance and surpassing the international level has become an urgent task." said Po-Lin, who had only wanted to teach at Soochow University originally but decided to "start a business to turn technology into products for the benefit of patients".

Entrepreneurship is a battle of timing, location, and people. "Now it seems that I was in the right place at the right time, with the right people. Our rapid development is closely related to the medical device industry ecology in Suzhou." In Polin Hsu's view, Suzhou High-tech Zone has taken the medical device industry as its characteristic direction and created a highland for upstream and downstream industries to gather, planting fertile ground for magAssist to thrive.

"In addition to the upstream and downstream industrial advantages, Suzhou New District also gives us entrepreneurs a platform to fully connect with various resources." Po-Lin Hsu said. Data show that in recent years, Suzhou New District has introduced the platform of Suzhou Institute of Medical Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, National Institute of Medical Science and Technology Innovation, and other large institutions, gathering more than 200 medical device-related enterprises, initially formed a medical device industry cluster featuring medical imaging, in vitro diagnostic reagents and instruments, biomedical materials and implant interventional devices, and diagnostic equipment.

Currently, Dr. Po-Lin Hsu is leading an international team to build the world's only and China's first extracorporeal magnetically levitated ventricular assist device.  "There's a tough technical barrier of artificial heart and requires a long-term accumulation of technology. There is no extracorporeal magnetically levitated ventricular assist device. under research in China, except for magAssist. We have completed tens of millions of dollars in Series A financing to bring together platform resources in the medical and healthcare field." said Po-Lin.

When journalists were about to leave, they noticed that the Chinese New Year scroll on the door of magAssist was "Go public soon". Po-Lin Hsu said that this goal will be achieved ahead of schedule. She said the COVID outbreak will promote a significant increase in demand for medical devices in both domestic and international markets and will garner more attention in this particular field. China's domestic substitution of the device industry will accelerate after the epidemic. We can see the determination and commitment in her eyes as she was laying out all these grand plans she had in mind for China's high-technology rise. At this moment, she has everything that resembles a scientist and an entrepreneur that represents the future.

This article is reprinted from the source - China News, Jiangsu

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