Home > careers in science, innovation, Research Impact and Quality > The path to innovation in translational clinical science – Monetize your Science – from The Scientist [2010-02-01]

The path to innovation in translational clinical science – Monetize your Science – from The Scientist [2010-02-01]

This is a truly fascinating article – how to create a substantial business out of unmet clinical needs, by ‘mosh-pitting’ (there is no more appropriate phrase)  and hot-housing clinicians, engineers, biomedical scientists and business development officers all in one place.

By Jef Akst: Monetize your Science – Tips on how to identify an unmet clinical need that can make you rich.

Brian Fahey walked into Stanford University Hospital looking for problems. With nearly full access to the hospital’s departments and operating rooms, Fahey’s search seemed unbounded. During this time, he observed a number of patients on ventilators, some of whom succumbed to the potentially lethal problem of developing pneumonia—from the ventilator itself. The problem wasn’t unique to Stanford University Hospital, affecting roughly 60,000 people a year in the United States, with more than half a million patients at risk—a problem that can cost a hospital more than $40,000 per patient. A biomedical engineer by training, Fahey found this problem “particularly compelling,” he says. “People that are on the ventilator are, by definition, critically ill and fighting for their lives, and we have just made them sicker.”

During his 6-week-long stint at the hospital, through the Stanford Biodesign’s entrepreneur training program, Fahey and four of his classmates found about 350 problems, or unmet clinical needs. The program brings PhDs, engineers, and clinicians together for a crash course in entrepreneurship in the biomedical sciences. Over the course of 10 months, fellows identify problems and carefully whittle them down to those with marketable solutions. Some even succeed in starting their own company on the basis of projects initiated during the course.

via Monetize your Science :The Scientist [2010-02-01] (reg req).

Lots of great tips on how to proceed and on the Stanford program itself (http://biodesign.stanford.edu/bdn/news/press.jsp).

Here are just two of the tips:

Find your market size on PubMed
It’s not enough to identify people who will buy the technology; you need to have enough customers for the product to make money. To find out how big your market is, identify the prevalence and incidence of the problem your product seeks to solve by scouring the literature on PubMed for epidemiological studies as well as other databases, such as the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) database, which provides statistics on hospital reports nationwide. Treatments for congestive heart failure, for example, exceed $38 billion dollars annually, affecting about 10% of people over the age of 75. “You can’t just design for one person,” Johnson says.

Make sure you’re worth at least $500 million

In addition to prevalence and incidence numbers, the HCUP database provides cost estimates, which can allow you to estimate how much the problem costs the system. Multiplying these costs by the prevalence numbers you already acquired can tell you how much money is spent on a problem each year. From a venture capitalist standpoint, Johnson says, your product must be worth “$500 million or more.” A viable product could have a small market—if it solves an expensive problem, it could be just as valuable.

This has got to be a model to explore here in Ireland. Perhaps one for the TCD-UCD Innovation Alliance to start? You look at the Stanford programme and think we have to have something like this in Ireland (maybe we do already?).

From the Stanford website:

At Biodesign, our goal is to improve patient care by producing the innovators who invent life-enhancing and potentially life-saving medical devices, techniques and related technology.

Biodesign is both a program and a method.

The breadth of knowledge in the life and physical sciences has grown exponentially, while technology has become increasingly complex. At the same time, the business of delivering quality health care has become increasingly difficult and expensive. Creating new, cost-effective medical devices that improve patient care requires a collaborative approach that focuses on the needs of patients, physicians and the health care industry as a whole. At Biodesign, we are refining a method that produces both world-class innovators and state-of-the-art medical devices.
The Biodesign program…

…is a thematic area within Bio-X, a Stanford University initiative encouraging multidisciplinary approaches to biology and medicine.

…is dedicated to producing leaders in medical technology. Through courses, fellowships and one-on-one advising, Biodesign faculty and staff teach the basics of:

* Innovation
* Technology Transfer
* Ethics & Policy

…organizes events that foster and facilitate collaborations between the university and industry leaders in the service of both education and technology innovation.

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