Will Your MedTech Innovation Ever Make Money?

Innovations fail most of the time, but there's one place which can tell you whether your idea will succeed. For free.

You think you have a great new medical innovation that will help patients and make you the next millionaire.

But pouring in time and money (yours or your family's and friends’) would be counterproductive without knowing whether the idea is really solid and can succeed.

One institution will do a validation study for your new medical innovation. For free. Repeat: The validation process is done for free.

The organization is the Medical Industry Leadership Institute (MILI), which is housed in the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.

The Institute runs a Medical Industry Valuation Lab, which brings together graduate students from the Carlson School of Management, the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Science and Engineering, the Law School, and the Academic Health Center to review individual inventors’ or companies' ideas or projects.

“We really have one metric: How much money is this [idea] going to make in the market,” said Mike Finch, acting director of MILI, who also runs the Medical Industry Valuation Lab. “We provide a quick and easy way to validate your technology. It’s free. Ignore the [$15,000] price on the website. The dean made us put that in.”

Finch was speaking at an innovation workshop, part of the Design of Medical Devices Conference held annually at the University of Minnesota.

It takes five weeks from when the the inventor submits the idea for the class to issue its final valuation report, Finch said.

The lab provides the following services:

  • Product description.
  • Technical evaluation.
  • Intellectual property assessment.
  • Regulatory review.
  • Market size and market demand analysis.
  • Pro forma—return on investment assessment.
  • Recommendation.

Since 2008, the Valuation Lab has completed 161 projects. The projects are reviewed under a strict non-disclosure agreement, especially given that some of the ideas are so early-stage that inventors haven’t even filed a provisional patent on it, Finch said.

About 90% of those projects came from individual inventions, as opposed to ideas that companies wanted to test, although Boston Scientific has routinely come to the Valuation Lab.

Finch has been heartened by the fact that sometimes controversial recommendations have been accepted by people submitting projects.

For instance, Mayo Clinic asked the Valuation Lab to review its telehealth program. The class came back and recommended that Mayo needed to drop a current partner and acquire a company to boost the telehealth program.

“Mayo did both those in six months,” he said, noting that he couldn't provide more details about the project because of nondisclosure agreements.

But sometimes the recommendation is simply that there is no market for such an idea, a bitter pill to swallow for the submitting inventor. It’s like telling a parent that a new baby is really ugly.

“Lot of these [ideas] are really ugly babies,” Finch said. And this slide shows why:

So, in the long run it’s better to know that an idea has no market viability quickly rather thank sink time, money, and effort into what will ultimately be a failed venture.

The mantra is fail early, cheap, and fast, so that you can move to the next idea. And the MILI Valuation Lab enables this process.


-- By Arundhati Parmar, Senior Editor, MD+DI



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