By Aisling Swift

The Society of Physician Entrepreneurs is now adding a 26th U.S. group, the SoPE Southwest Florida Chapter, which will be based at the Naples Accelerator.

SoPE Southwest Florida invites doctors, health and wellness practitioners and businesses, medical inventors and investors to join the group.

“The lack of innovation in our healthcare system is in part due to the fact that the end users — patients and physicians — have traditionally had very little input into solutions for the problems our healthcare system faces,” said Dr. Michael Havig, a Naples orthopedic surgeon who co-founded the local SoPE chapter. “I feel that advances in our field will be led by those ‘in the trenches’ of our healthcare system: the doctors and patients who live the problems we face on a daily basis.”

“Many physicians, including myself, complain about things and have ideas for companies to improve our situations, but don’t know what the next step is to actually build a product and company to solve that problem,” he added. “To help physicians in this endeavor, we are starting a local chapter of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, a national organization that can help you turn your idea into a solution for healthcare.”

At the kickoff event on June 12, Havig spoke about his Naples Accelerator-based startup, HealthMe, an online, transparent medical marketplace.

SoPE is a global biomedical and healthcare innovation network open to all healthcare professionals, entrepreneurs and industry stakeholders. It was founded in 2011 by three physicians who shared a common vision, to empower physicians and other professionals to innovate healthcare through entrepreneurship. There are now five international chapters, and members include doctors, nurses, dentists, healthcare entrepreneurs, investors, engineers, academics, IT professionals and industry representatives.

SoPE provides a platform to accelerate ideas and inventions, in addition to offering a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt foundation for scholarships and philanthropic endeavors that advance healthcare. The local chapter also will be working with other investors, including a national funding group that also helps with the patent process.

SoPE empowers entrepreneurs by providing the education, connections, experience and funding opportunities needed to commercialize ideas, inventions and discoveries. It encourages investment and support for new therapies and approaches, including drugs, devices, diagnostic tools, vaccines, digital health products or business-process innovations.

“We want to build a more robust economy in Southwest Florida by uncovering and aligning physicians and wellness and medical innovators with critical resources,” said local chapter co-founder Carmen Scott Dawson, who heads Advanz LLC, a Naples Accelerator startup that helps small businesses. “SoPE will help build investment-worthy, viable, high-growth companies that have the potential to save lives, create living-wage jobs and generate significant returns for the community and stakeholders,”

The health and wellness sector is a key targeted industry for the state and Collier County, said Jace Kentner, director of the Collier County Office of Business & Economic Development, adding that SoPE will help grow that sector.

“We hope to energize and engage our local physicians and entrepreneurs in the community,” Kentner said. “We want our local physicians to have a support network for their ideas so that they can get their products and services to the market faster.”

For more information about SoPE, contact Carmen Scott Dawson at: