PEORIA — Born at Peoria-based OSF Innovation Center, BrightWater Medical, Inc. has been acquired by Utah-based Merit Medical Systems, marking the first exit of a venture capital-funded project from OSF Innovation.

Brightwater Medical was founded by Dr. Robert Smouse, a professor of radiology and surgery at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria, a collaborative partner of OSF Innovation. Smouse invented a new type of stent to treat severe obstructions of the urinary tract and bile ducts. The BrightWater stent family, called the ConvertX Stent Systems, are placed during a single procedure instead of the usual two procedures required for conventional devices. BrightWater recently achieved FDA clearance for both stent systems that address complicated blockages typically caused by cancer.

In addition to improving patient care, BrightWater products could reduce costs to the healthcare industry by $1 billion annually, said Smouse. He credits OSF Ventures and OSF HealthCare as being a significant partner in his company's journey to success.

OSF Ventures Vice President Stan Lynall said the company is pleased with the success of endeavor they helped get off the ground.

"Making BrightWater Medical products available to a greatly expanded patient population has the potential to positively impact medicine and patient outcomes in the U.S. and beyond," he said.

The Central Illinois Angels, a non-profit organization of investors helping entrepreneurs with capital and strategic advice, was also an early financial supporter of the company.

"It is an honor to work with OSF to bring the ConvertX to patients. When a hospital system like OSF invests in a medical product, it serves as validation that the product has potential," said Smouse. "In our case, OSF Ventures carefully vetted ConvertX and BrightWater for four months, evaluating the technology and benefit it would have to patients in need. They came back with two thumbs up."