How the medtech industry learned to stop worrying and love open innovation

November 04, 2015

As the medical device industry is challenged to accelerate innovation and fill the new product pipeline while improving outcomes, the notion of open innovation has gained traction. This has been a bit of a sea change for an industry that, historically, has liked to keep research and development under very tight wraps. Companies that want to maintain a competitive advantage in a rapidly changing business landscape have little choice, however, but to embrace this new model, according to Peter M. von Dyck, CEO of eZassi (Fernandina Beach, FL), a company that has developed a secure collaboration platform for the medical device industry. And, as they test open innovation within a secure environment, many discover that it's not as scary as they might have thought. It's a lot like the evolution of e-commerce, says von Dyck. "Until e-commerce had trusted online transactional capabilities that provided bilateral protection for all parties, we were too scared to use it. Now that [platforms such as] eZassi are making it safe to connect, solve and collaborate together, we are seeing a diminishment in the 'too scared to share' phenomenon, and that is a game changer in the pace of innovation," von Dyck told PlasticsToday. He will discuss the technology and its benefits for medtech innovation at the co-located MD&M Florida and PLASTEC South events coming to Orlando, FL, later this month.

ChangeOpen innovation centers primarily around firms looking outside their corporate enterprise walls for insights, ideas, inventions and inspiration, explains von Dyck. "It typically involves crowdsourcing ideas and scouting technologies for external opportunities that lead to new products and partners. It can also revolve around the use of a portal to run technology challenges around things it needs or seeks. All these tactics comprise open innovation, and increasingly it's becoming a more standard way to accelerate innovation and new product development," says von Dyck.

It's not as if medical technology companies are complete strangers to collaborative innovation, adds von Dyck. The medtech industry has partnered with universities, start-ups and inventors for decades. The difference today is that the collaborative process is "moving online and leveraging the power of the crowd, as we are all mobile and well connected online," explains von Dyck. "The post-recession market is hungry for new products, and the increasingly digital marketplace demands new solutions at faster rates than before." Increasingly, companies have no choice but to extend their reach into crowd ideation if they want to be successful in the 21st century, according to von Dyck. "Sitting back and relying on internal product development is a risk and a competitive disadvantage in today's connected world."

While that may be true, companies in the medtech space have understandable concerns regarding intellectual property protection in this open environment, and that is precisely why von Dyck developed the eZassi platform. Open innovation is technology centric, says von Dyck, and IP-centric markets like medtech have special requirements, as the ideas generated and captured typically need to be more confidential and disclosed more securely in a staged manner. "EZassi provides this secure interface and collaboration platform that not only

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