Written by Scott Holson, NEPDC Project Leader and George Price, Lab Manager of the Duhaime Pediatric Neurosurgery Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital
In many cases, the largest hurdles clinical innovators face when entering the medical device field involve the intangible constraints including time away from busy clinical schedules and a dearth of business experience. Finding and collaborating with an experienced business partner can allow medical device concepts to take progressive steps towards commercialization. While these relationships are not based on methodology alone, a clinician entrepreneur can seek out a few qualities when identifying a business partner that will prove advantageous to the commercialization process.
1. Opportunity Recognition
For many first-time entrepreneurs, their passion for their product can be blinding, closing the doors for external influence and subsequent opportunities. Thus, these entrepreneurs should seek business partners with unbiased opportunity recognition, understanding the venture as that of a business, and not a personal passion. For example, the ability to relinquish autonomy over the commercialization process allows expansion of the company outside of the entrepreneur’s skill set. This flexible approach allows utilization of legal, technical, business, and financial resources that would otherwise be overlooked. As a result, the entrepreneur allows for self-growth within the small business field, exposing themselves to personnel capable of helping with fortuitous logistical hurdles that could have stopped commercialization efforts.
2. Smart Risk-taker
When considering the birth of a small business, the ability to assess risk is critical. A business partner with entrepreneurial experience will solve the biggest problems first. This creates a more involved initial vetting period in an effort to ensure that the risk, i.e., the attempt to commercialize said pediatric device, is worth the time, effort, and money, or conversely, is not worth pursuing. The ability to walk away from a business opportunity based on anticipated insurmountable troubles or lack of market opportunity prevents the entrepreneur from spending time and money on a project lacking opportunity for growth.
3. Leadership Ability
A clinical innovator would be wise to seek a business partner who is a proficient leader. A leader recognizes that the path-to-market will vary, but demonstrates the commitment to the product concept that allows for growth and modification to the business model. Further, a leader should be able to build on the strengths of the project, while simultaneously finding the appropriate resources to overcome the project’s weaknesses. Lastly, a business partner with leadership ability should be able to set standards not only for themselves, but also for the business team, providing a benchmark for the work expected from everyone involved on the project.
An experienced entrepreneur, and thus beneficial business partner, will be exclusively responsible to execute a plan in any given situation. The inability to execute a task at any point in the path-to-market may derail the development of the product, or even prove detrimental to the product’s ability to reach commercialization.
New England Pediatric Device Consortium, NEPDC, provides in-kind services that train and guide the clinical innovator in smart risk-taking, opportunity recognition, leadership, and project execution of their unique path to commercialization.