Putting More Emphasis on Advancing Pediatric Device Innovation

Here’s how NCC-PDI is moving the needle forward for pediatric device innovation.

Katie Pfaff

November 7, 2022

3 Min Read
Image courtesy of Godong / Alamy Stock Photo

Devices for pediatric patients don’t often receive the same attention as those for adults, with the space attaining less funding and thereby achieving less innovation. However, a recent round of awards following a pitch competition held by the National Capital Consortium for Pediatric Device Innovation (NCC-PDI) seeks to change that, allocating grant funding to companies innovating in pediatric medtech.

Pediatric medical devices are an often-overlooked space and fall behind adult devices in both the development of new devices and the number of devices achieving commercialization. Groups such as NCC-PDI, which is part of FDA’s pediatric device consortia, have aimed to bolster companies working in pediatric medical devices to speed the pipeline.

Children’s devices receive fewer dollars

“While great advances have been made in adult medical devices, children are often left behind because the pediatric market is perceived to be small by many large medtech companies, and in being forced to demonstrate positive P/L, there are no incentives for them to develop pediatric technologies. In fact, unlike devices for adults, the development and commercialization of pediatric medical devices lag behind by approximately 5 to 10 years,” said Kolaleh Eskandanian, PhD, MBA, PMP, vice president and CIO at Children’s National Hospital and principal investigator of NCC-PDI.

“Small companies have stepped in to fill this gap and this is why we support them. Understanding this gap, and the fact that pediatric professionals have had to retrofit devices to make them work for children, we created the competition to support innovators in the startup community, highlight critical patient needs and showcase potentially impactful solutions.”

Chosen awardee devices were disruptive

Providing grant funding for pediatric device companies, particularly those that are breaking new ground in the space, is critical to ensure that they make it to commercialization. “The primary goal of the competition is to advance pediatric device development. That is not possible unless we support innovators seeking to make meaningful changes by helping them with seed funding and wraparound services to cross the chasm that is a barrier to advancing novel and disruptive ideas,” said Eskandanian. “This NCC-PDI funding provides critical backing for these companies and gives them additional financial resources, as well as recognition of their work, as they make the journey to commercialization.”

Winners from the competition were: CorInnova, a Houston, Texas-based developer of a minimally invasive biventricular non-blood contacting cardiac assist device that treats heart failure; La Palma, California company, Innovation Lab, which seeks to improve the daily lives of patients with pediatric ataxic cerebral palsy through a mechanical elbow brace that can stabilize tremor; Prapela, of Biddeford, Maine, which is developing an incubator pad that treats apnea of prematurity; Richmond, Virginia-based Tympanogen, that has developed Perf-Fix to allow for nonsurgical treatment for eardrum repair; and Concord, Ontario-based Xpan which has developed a universal trocar to create better upsizing from robotic procedures.

 Awardee devices needed to be innovative and achievable

The five winners were chosen based on the impact of their devices, according to Eskandanian. “Grant awards are provided to companies that demonstrate how their innovations have the potential to make a significant leap forward in pediatric care. For example, our first prize winner this year, Prapela, pitched the first innovation to improve the treatment of apnea of prematurity in over 20 years,” explained Eskandanian “Additionally, winning technologies need to be proven viable, show how they can address an existing unmet pediatric need and establish how this FDA grant funding will help them take the next strategic step on the path to commercialization.”

Additional opportunities to advance pediatric device innovation are being evaluated, according to Eskandanian.

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