University of Waterloo electrical engineering graduates and friends, Frank Baylis and Kris Shah, have achieved great success in the biomedical technology field and, together, helped found Baylis Medical Company Inc.
Baylis Medical is an internationally-recognized developer of medical devices, specifically in cardiac electrophysiology. Baylis and Shah’s background in electrical engineering was key to their progress in the biomedical field, since the principles they learned can be directly applied to the electric components of the heart.
Baylis’ mother, Gloria Baylis, was a nurse who realized the importance of a medical device distributor in Canada and founded Baylis Medical Company in 1986. After completing his undergraduate degree at UW and working at another company to gain experience, Baylis joined his mother in 1989, shortly followed by his friend and colleague Shah, who joined their team in 1990. The company switched focus from distribution to development of medical devices in 2001 when they commercialized their first product.
“A lot of our success is directly related to education and connections we made at Waterloo,” Shah said.
While at UW, Baylis and Shah were both involved with the Engineering Society and were both editors of the Iron Warrior, a student newspaper for engineers. Shah was also a part of the Engineering Executive Council; they encourage current UW students to take advantage of all the clubs and opportunities the school has to offer.
“We are a huge believer in the University of Waterloo — it has been a phenomenal university to help our success. The co-op program was fantastic for us — it gave us a real insight into different places and types of work. It was a wonderful education, and we are very grateful for it,” Baylis said.
From an engineering degree to becoming co-founders and presidents of a major biotechnology development company, they have had to learn the inner workings of the business world from taking an entrepreneur class in their fourth year of university, learning from colleagues, reading books and most importantly, by learning from their own mistakes as they go. Their dedication and hard work is apparent since the company has now been a Gold Standard Winner of Canada’s Best Managed Company award presented by Deloitte for three years in a row.
Shah and Baylis both recognize the major positive impact that UW has had on their careers and lives, and they have used their success to give back and help make education available to everyone. They started a charity called For The Children (FTC) which raises money to support children’s education, having so far built a school in South Africa; a school for girls in Kenya; and a school for disadvantaged children in India.
They have also raised money for many other charities and grants in Canada, the United States and the rest of the world. They give back to the students at UW by sponsoring one of the largest scholarships at the school, the Gloria Baylis Entrance Award, for first-year engineering students.
Together, the team won UW’s Team Alumni Achievement Medal in 2014. Continuing the legacy, two of Shah’s daughters, Preeya and Ritu Shah, and Frank’s daughter, Julia Baylis, all attend engineering programs at UW.
The company’s cardiology business was recently sold to Boston Scientific Corporation for an upfront payment of $1.75 billion USD. This marks the fifth business venture the pair has sold. They previously created and sold a back pain business to Kimberly Clark Healthcare; a consulting company (SRNED) to Ernst & Young accounting firm; and another back pain business and one for bone cancer, both sold to Medtronic.