A recent event held at Newcastle University Business School saw guest speaker, Todd Brinton, discuss needs-based innovation in the medical field.
Medical devices innovation that is patient-needs driven rather than being the result of a technology push, can be built into a sustainable business that benefits patients and makes money for the innovator.
How does one find real medical problems that need to be solved? Why do we call them needs?
Todd Brinton, MD, fellowship director of Stanford University’s Biodesign Program, cardiologist and bioengineer, presented a bootcamp and a master class in innovation to a mixed university and industry audience.
At Stanford University the Biodesign program teaches the needs-based innovation methodology to their fellows in a year-long program with the purpose of creating entrepreneurs – people with the skills needed to take inventions to market. In the 13 years of Biodesign, 29 companies have come out of the program, and over 100 fellows have graduated.
Teams aim to find a strategic focus, look for problems, and then turn those problems into more generalised needs.
Teams are key – they must include a partnership between people with clinical, scientific, engineering and business development skills; these teams are found to innovate the best.
The team must take a strategic focus on an area that it cares about, and then immerse themselves in the clinical field of interest. Once they are there they need to observe; get dirty; get in to see actual clinical practise and take notice of frustrated people; use fresh eyes and ask naïve questions because there are many, many problems.
Each observed problem represents a need. Some of these needs affect many patients and, when this need, this opportunity, is thoroughly evidenced, the opportunity is ripe for innovation, invention and business development.
Written by Lucille Valentine