Inaugural Innovation Summit Draws Industry Leaders to Boulder, Colo.

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BOULDER, Colo.—An invited group of optical industry leaders, along with execs from six emerging startup companies, convened here at the inaugural Innovation Summit, designed to share ideas and determine “what is inevitable over the next five to seven years” and examine what could be done to capitalize on the opportunities. Hosted by Bart Foster, managing director of Sanitas Advisors, the Summit took place here, and, in a mix of outdoor activities and working sessions, attendees exchanged ideas and heard from new companies.

Among the companies represented among the attendees were Essilor, ABB Optical Group, Walman, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Alcon, Eyefinity, IDOC, National Vision, Texas State Optical, Anthem and others, as well as executives from such firms as Lensabl, LaForge Optical, Digital Optometrics, Patch, Horizons and Opternative.

Stated Foster, “My goal was to bring together industry leaders who could help start-ups with their biggest challenges by providing perspective, shared experiences, advice and mentorship,” said Foster who also founded SoloHealth (now Pursuant Health). “Given that I have worked inside big companies (i.e. Kellogg’s, Novartis), then founded and grew my own company, I believe I am uniquely positioned to help bridge the gap between corporations and startup CEOs.

The participants created a top 10 list of what they believed were “inevitable” trends, among them the advent of telehealth, the further emergence of additive manufacturing, new business models in online sales, continued vertical integration, a rise in the use of augmented and virtual reality as well as the advent of Amazon into the eyecare business.

At the event, Foster also announced that he intended to develop a new venture capital firm to focus on a portfolio of high-potential, early stage eyecare companies.

Essilor’s John Carrier, COO, an attendee said, “This was a wonderful event where industry leaders were able to build authentic relationships and discuss the future of our industry. The organization was outstanding.”