Stephen Levy

February 18, 2014

3 Min Read
Online MedTech Incubator Offers Help to Budding Inventors—for a Price

Primarily created to bring together inventors who have an idea for a new medical device but need help to commercialize it, and medtech manufacturers on the hunt for innovative new products, Edison Nation Medical (ENM) is an online medical device incubator and healthcare innovation portal.

The medical technology specialty organization was formed in July 2012 through a collaboration between the Carolinas Healthcare System and Edison Nation, a well-known general-purpose product design and development group. Their stated motivation was to encourage medical innovation and streamline procedures, enhance the patient experience, and reduce costs.

Stark hand

The Stark hand is one of the products featured on Edison Nation Medical's website.

"The collaborative relationship between Carolinas HealthCare System and Edison Nation was fundamentally built on a shared vision that, working together, these two organizations can have a lasting impact on the future of healthcare," explains Michael C. Tarwater, CEO, Carolinas HealthCare System, on the ENM website.

The idea is, the inventor has an idea and submits it to the "confidential and secure" submissions portal. "Submitting an idea gives your idea access to countless product development, healthcare, and medical device experts," the website says.

Then the idea will be "vetted through our internal, multi-step review process." And, if the "idea is selected for commercialization, ENM will design and prototype the idea, secure all IP and patent filings, and deploy our licensing experts to negotiate the fairest, most lucrative licensing contract possible. All royalty profits from successfully commercialized products are split 50/50 with the inventor."

That 50/50 split may seem rather steep, but ENM is, after all, doing a significant chunk of the work needed to commercialize the idea, and taking on the risk that the idea may prove to be a dud.

The Carolinas Healthcare System 2012 Annual Report says, "In the first year, more than 1400 people signed up to participate and more than 700 ideas were submitted for evaluation." Nobody is saying how many of these ideas were selected for further development, however.

The ENM website lists a few success stories, among them one Sean Hensler, cofounder of Hensler Surgical. Funny thing is, according to a January 14 story by Issie Lapowsky in Inc. magazine, Hensler didn't use many of ENM's services--at least not directly.

Lapowsky says that Hensler formed his own company in 2011 and invested hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money to get his Hensler Bone Press close to realization. Then he took his product to Enventys, another product development offshoot of the Edison Nation family, to prototype the product. Hensler paid Enventys an upfront fee so he wouldn't have to give up any stake in future earnings.

When he was approached by Edison Nation to use their resources in licensing the product, Hensler put on the brakes. "We had put all the money into it, and they wanted to take a huge percentage just to get us distribution," Hensler told Lapowsky. "I didn't see the value there."

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