As it launches the second generation of its flagship product, Halifax medical device maker FIVAMed has inked a distribution deal with Ontario-based industry incumbent Canadian Hospital Specialties, or CHS.

FIVAMed makes technology for alerting medical staff when IV bags (like those used in hospitals and veterinary clinics) run dry. The company’s second-generation product, FIVAFlow, also collects other types of data, such as the rate at which fluid is being consumed.

“The original iteration was a slightly simpler version that did not display the flow rate,” said co-founder Barbara Campbell in an interview.

“It was an alert device. And it did all the safety functionality of the current device, but what our early adopters told us is that they really wanted additional functionality.”

Campbell, who is also the Atlantic Canadian director for industry group Natural Products Canada, started FIVAMed in 2014 with her three cofounders, Dr. Orlando Hung, Ben Garvey and Alastair Trower. Hung, an anesthesiologist, approached Campbell after taking inspiration from his own frustrations with conventional IV bags. Garvey, meanwhile, is the CEO of Halifax engineering company Enginuity, where Trower is director of business development.

So far, the co-founders have self-funded FIVAMed’s operations, ramping up their product development work over the last two years to incorporate customer feedback.

They house their assembly line at Enginuity’s Spryfield, NS, headquarters. And FIVAMed has a medical device establishment license from the federal government, meaning they can keep their assembly work in-house for as long as they want.

“CHS were just a really good fit for us — their depth of expertise, their much broader sales team than we could have imagined doing it from in house, but also just their understanding of the acute care and chronic care situations where this device will be deployed,” said Campbell.

She added that her team may have to eventually outsource some manufacturing work as the business scales, but the current setup is adequate to meet their expected demand from the North American market.

FIVAMed currently has two full-time employees in addition to its founders, and usually has at least one student worker, as well.  

The second full-time employee is a recent hire who was brought on specifically to do business development work for international markets. And FIVAMed has inked three broker deals with foreign partners, about which Campbell expects to have more announcements in the coming months.

She also hopes to soon hire several more people to meet increased demand resulting from the CHS deal.

“I won’t hide the fact that there’s a celebratory tone for us,” said Campbell of the CHS agreement. “Orlando (Hung) brought me a clinical problem eight years ago and said, ‘Here’s a concept: I would love a device that could fix this problem I have with IV bags running dry during long operations.’

“It’s nice when good stories have good endings, and for us, this is just the beginning.”