Medtech community shares the secrets of commercialisation
Saving and improving lives by making it easier to develop medical devices with electronics and software is the mission of the newly launched NSW Active MedTech Community.
There is a perception that developing medical devices is hard — so hard that it scares off a lot of people with otherwise great ideas. Indeed, it is reported that 90% of innovations fail — a figure that is likely to be higher in the active medtech space, given that the regulatory requirements for medical devices involving electricity are more onerous than for inert products.
Of course there are always exceptions, and one device that is currently experiencing some success is MOSkin — a sensing technology for measuring the effective depth and intensity of radiation doses in real time during radiotherapy treatments. The technology was created by the Centre for Medical Radiation Physics at the University of Wollongong and is being commercialised by Electrogenics Laboratories, with the next stage of commercialisation being to develop a single-use, disposable sensing system customised for use during a variety of cancer treatments, as well as angiogram, diagnostic and interventional scans.
So what would it take to make technologies like MOSkin the rule rather than the exception, and to turn that 90% failure rate into a 90% success rate? That is a key question the NSW Active MedTech Community aims to address.
The community is the brainchild of Genesys Electronics Design and Circuitwise Electronics Manufacturing, contract developers of active medtech products. The two companies focus on the electronics and software aspects of a medtech device but work with a wide range of other service providers to help the client bring their product to life.
Genesys CEO Geoff Sizer and Circuitwise GM Serena Ross observed that a key challenge medtech entrepreneurs face is the number of steep learning curves in multiple disciplines required to develop a product. Indeed, Genesys has mapped up to 40 distinct skillsets required for successful commercialisation of medical devices, and claims that NSW has world-class service providers in every category of expertise required — including industrial design, regulatory strategy, quality systems, intellectual property, financing, software, electronics and more.
“An entrepreneur can hire expert service providers in all these areas, but they must still be an informed buyer,” Ross said. “In addition, expert service providers can be very siloed, with little knowledge of the critical success factors underpinning the skillsets of other service providers. This puts the onus back on the entrepreneur to get a multitude of stars to align. Unfortunately, this can be too much to handle for inexperienced medtech developers.”
In order to help reduce the learning curve for entrepreneurs, Sizer suggested running a series of thought leadership webinars from experts in each of the 40 skill areas identified in his company’s medtech industry mapping exercise. These presentations, to be run by the NSW Active MedTech Community, will highlight the critical success factors required for successful medtech commercialisation.
“Efforts to date encouraging innovation in the medtech industry have largely focused on connecting ‘industry’ to our research institutions,” Sizer said. “While research plays an important role in innovation, it is only one of the 40 categories we identified. We need to have a greater focus on the important role other service providers play in bringing innovation to life.”
The first of the webinars, serving as an introduction to active medtech, will be held on 5 February 2020 and hosted at the community website — www.nswactivemedtech.com.au — with further webinars to follow. Membership of the community is free and open to all, not just those in NSW.
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