Why the Medical Device Community Must Tap into Innovation Ecosystems

Cliff Emmons, the Chairman at the marcus evans Medical Device R&D Summit Spring 2017, discusses how the industry can be more innovative.

Interview with: Cliff Emmons, (former) VP R&D, India and Extended Emerging Markets, Medtronic

�The medical device community has built itself around isolated R&D groups doing purely organic development within their own company and is not fully tapping into the full richness of the different types of innovations ecosystems that have been spurring disruptive technology and business models in the Silicon Valley, Boston area and several different locations around the globe,� says Cliff Emmons, (former) VP R&D, India and Extended Emerging Markets, Medtronic.

Emmons is the Chairman at the marcus evans Medical Device R&D Summit Spring 2017, taking place in Los Angeles, California, June 19-20.

What are these innovation ecosystems and why is the medical community not fully tapping into them?

The belief is that R&D is only meant to be the organic internal arm of innovation within their company and the word �collaborative� almost never enters into the discussion. Inorganic innovation is controlled by the strategy and portfolio people, and the organic by global marketing and R&D to a certain degree. Too often, there is a wall between the two groups and there is little collaborative spirit, but in contrast you see this naturally occurring in other environments where there is a mix of start-ups, major universities and technology schools.

What is required for this collaboration to happen? Can this make organizations more competitive?

There are several elements. I believe it has to start with the R&D leaders themselves. They must reach out and create a bridge between the other functions including the global marketing groups within their companies so the walls and barriers can be broken down and one common strategy adopted, with joint ventures and greater investment in early stage start-ups.

The second part is more difficult. The R&D leader has to reach out to the intellectual property leaders and convince them to explore intellectual property as a shared or common resource, rather than a tool of absolute exclusivity. They must become more open and willing to share and leverage IP in different ways. Unutilized technology can be shared with the innovation ecosystem, further developed, and potentially picked up again later by the company. They could more frequently license other companies� technologies to accelerate its development and look for new applications. Independent, isolated intellectual property is slowing down the innovation process.

The third aspect is the need for a concerted effort to move engineers off corporate campuses and integrate them into the ecosystems. There are examples of R&D groups in major medical device companies that have uprooted their traditional R&D locations and moved them to centers like Silicon Valley and Boston to integrate their people into these innovation ecosystems.

The result of the status quo is we are not as innovative as we can be. Business unit strategies are often so segmented, synergistic technologies are easily overlooked. We need to leverage innovation ecosystems to move on new ideas at a faster rate than before, given the clinical, economical, and technological pressures of our industry.

What trends should medical device manufacturers prepare for?

The most important trends are technological. Sensor technology combined with data analysis and artificial intelligence will revolutionize the way we approach healthcare and medical devices. Standalone devices that are not integrated into an entire system of sensors, technologies, diagnostics monitoring and actual therapeutics will not be successful.

Any final words of advice?

Get out there. Be close to your customers so you deeply understand the challenges clinicians are facing especially in the digital world. Unless you are immersed in these ecosystems, you are out of the game. It is not just about the technology or clinical needs, but also about looking at innovative business models that are transforming healthcare and medical devices.


Contact: Sarin Kouyoumdjian-Gurunlian, Press Manager, marcus evans, Summits Division

Tel: + 357 22 849 313
Email: press@marcusevanscy.com


About the Medical Device R&D Summit Spring 2017 - www.medicalrdsummit.com

The Medical Device R&D Summit is the premium forum bringing together medical device R&D executives with leading solution providers. The Summit offers an intimate environment for focused discussion on cutting-edge technology, strategy and implementation of solutions to forward-thinking medical device companies interested in staying ahead of the market. Taking place at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena, Los Angeles, California, June 19-20, the Summit includes presentations on recruiting and building the brightest R&D teams, overcoming the declining venture capital to boost growth and innovation, and how IoT will continue to accelerate healthcare evolution.

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