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Heard on the Street: Rochester firm tops Medtronic for tech award

A young Rochester health care firm beat out big Minnesota names like Medtronic and Starkey Hearing this week to win a top state technology award.

Apri Health Inc. , the 3-year-old analytical health care systems firm, won a Tekneaward in the Healthcare–Established Companies division. The Tekne awards are presented annually by the Minnesota High Tech Associationto companies that have made advancements in technology and science.

Dr. Mark Ereth, Apri co-founder and retired Mayo Clinicphysician, said they had expected to compete in the Applied Analytics division, but the organizers deemed that Apri's scope goes beyond just analytics. That meant that they were placed in the Established company category.

"I said, 'Oh my God, we're going against Medtronic. How are we going to do that?,'" Ereth said.

While he was proud of what his team has accomplished and thought they might have a shot at winning, he didn't really expect to pick up the award over two Minnesota tech giants.

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"I was, in fact, pretty surprised," he said with a chuckle.

Apri was honored for the advancements it has made in the field of studying medical care data to eliminate unnecessary costs. Ereth and Jamison Feramiscofounded the company, then called Transfuse, in 2013 in the Mayo Clinic Business Acceleratorin Rochester's Minnesota BioBusiness Center. They launched it under the name of Transfuse because it used data tools to evaluate the necessity of blood transfusions.

The company expanded its focus beyond just transfusions earlier this year. That shift spurred changing the company's name to Apri.

"We're going far beyond what traditional health care consulting has done," Ereth said. "There's so much unnecessary waste in health care. It's all about bringing value to health care. We think that's our sweet spot."

Apri has 17 employees, five of them based at the headquarters in downtown Rochester. It also has employees in Silicon Valley and Dallas, Texas.

The firm licenses some intellectual property from Mayo Clinic for its educational software, though its core analytical systems were all developed by Apri's team.

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