A Cleveland-based initiative aims to harness local medical technology to create a thriving entrepreneurial workforce.
A four-person cohort completed the 10-month program this week and culminated in a final public presentation Scheduled for today, Thursday, May 20, at 4 p.m. with three of the four fellows who have built a medical device startup based on the prevention of hospital-acquired infections.
“Our goal for the program isn’t necessarily business creation,” says Andrew Cornwell, deputy director of the Case-Coulter Translational Research Partnership and a member of the leadership team who leads the community. “It is a rare event that we look forward to. However, we want to build a workforce in Cleveland that can transform our medical technology resources into businesses. “
The program embeds participants in clinical practice to identify unmet innovation needs. The fellows are guided through a design and build process, followed by a prototype implementation, which ideally leads to commercialization.
The focus on neuroscience makes the program unique among Biodesign health care grants in the United States, Cornwell notes. According to the organizers, the program is the world’s first established health innovation initiative based on neurotech.
“The combination of the biological design curriculum and the accessibility of our fellows is what makes it special,” says Cornwell.
The first cohort of four fellows started the program last September, funded by the clinic Neurological Institute, the Provost Fund at CWRU, and an anonymous donor. The participants are young professionals with a background such as neurosurgery and biomedical engineering. Diversity was a buzzword when the first group of fellows were brought in last year, notes Cornwell.
“We weren’t looking for specific titles or backgrounds, but we wanted to cover a range of skills,” he says. “We chose this team to bring these skills together and we are pleased with what they have achieved.”
usage of Stanford Biodesign MethodThe scholarship provides hands-on guidance from a team of faculty experts who are familiar with product design, financial strategy, and how to create an effective company agreement. The Fellows produced 400 clinical needs and eventually split that list into two commercially-ready prototypes
Starting a business is exciting, but it’s the collaborative culture that makes Fellowship leaders so enthusiastic.
Stanford Biodesign Method – Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign
Although Cleveland’s current medical technology ecosystem is talented and hardworking, it needs to grow to bring critical venture capital to the region.
“We want to build a stable of entrepreneurs who start and leave businesses, then go to institutions that are on IP (intellectual property) files and find a new business to start,” says Cornwell. “Having a group of talented leaders here is the goal.”
With the first cohort on the books, it will take officers a few months to investigate what worked (and what didn’t) over the course of the pilot. The COVID-19 pandemic has not slowed studying as staff have been encouraged to meet with fellows virtually or in person.
At the next planned iteration of the scholarship in September 2022, the overriding mission of better patient care will once again be in the foreground.
“This program is a model for collaborative support at all levels,” says Cornwell. “That is the reason for my optimism about long-term success. Collaboration is the key to the success of such a program. “