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Medical Device Design Centers: Do or Don't?

Sometimes called innovation centers, these spaces are cropping up at some device companies that want to encourage creativity among employees. But do they really serve the intended purpose?

Jamie Hartford

Thanks in part to the influence of brands like Apple, whose slick consumer devices have in many ways set the standard for the look and feel of new technology, the world is paying a lot more attention to design these days. Once dismissed as flaky artist-types who did little but tweak color schemes, designers are now being hailed as rock stars and given a prominent seat at the product development table.

Learn more about medical device design at MD&M Minneapolis, September 21-22, 2016.

This newfound reverence for design has given rise to a new trend: design centers. Sometimes called innovation centers, these facilities are dedicated spaces within an organization that are set up specifically to encourage creativity. They typically forgo standard office furniture like cubicles in favor of open environments designed to foster collaboration and sometimes contain wacky props in an effort to promote the free flow of ideas. Think bright colors, modern design, beanbag chairs--even toys.

Once unique to forward-thinking design firms like IDEO, design centers are also cropping up in traditionally buttoned-up medical device companies. In a recent panel discussion on the secrets of successful medical design innovation at the MD&M East conference, moderator Bryce Rutter, of Metaphase Design Group, asked the audience medtech professionals how many of their companies have established a design or innovation center. Several hands shot up.

When Rutter quizzed those whose companies have created such a space what the result has been, the answers were mixed. One person said innovation centers are necessary to help create a safe place where truly innovative ideas can be allowed to germinate rather than immediately get nixed by the suits. Another suggested that the playroom-like space at her company often sits empty.

Does your device firm have a design or innovation center? If so, does it really foster creativity, or is this just medtech's version of a New Age fad?

Jamie Hartford is director of medical content in the Advanced Manufacturing Group of UBM Americas and serves as editor-in-chief of MD+DI. Reach her at [email protected].

 

[image courtesy of iStock user Kupicoo]

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