Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) revealed its plans for an incubation and acceleration platform for innovation in the neurovascular space.
In a presentation yesterday at DeviceTalks West in Santa Clara, California, the company unveiled its plan to bring innovations to market to address strokes. Daniel Volz, president of Medtronic Neurovascular, and Derek Crittenden, Medtronic’s new technology & strategy program manager, presented the news.
“We’re pleased to share with you today the Medtronic neurovascular Co-Lab platform,” Volz said. “This is a community platform designed to transform ideas and technologies into novel global therapies by providing physicians and entrepreneurs with insight with support, and most importantly, making sure innovation has the chance to touch as many people around the world as possible.”
About Medtronic Co-Lab
Crittenden explained that the industry “positions” break into four categories. It covers “big strategics,” startups serving as “enablers,” incubators and physicians “leaning into innovation and novel insights.”
He said Co-Lab aims to put structure and collaboration around the growing amount of activity in the space. It starts with a submission on a virtual collaboration portal. Then, physicians and entrepreneurs apply for what Medtronic calls a “collaboration track.”
Medtronic then received the submission with a dedicated Co-Lab core team to assess opportunities quickly and efficiently. Crittenden said it all comprises a transparent process.
“What we’re doing there is looking at essentially three things,” Crittenden said. “The first is what’s the magnitude of the unmet need and how novel the solution is in addressing that. What is the impact on patients how many patients are going to be impacted by this innovation that matters? And then the last one is, what’s the technical feasibility? What’s the technical feasibility and what does it look like to actually get to commercialization with a device?”
Ultimately, Medtronic wants to form partnerships, Crittenden said. He pointed to different collaboration tracks as the “most important aspect” of Co-Lab. A simplified explanation laid out the three-step process for product development. First, an idea leads to the first-in-human application, then eventually the company moves to commercialization.
The four tracks
Medtronic touted several different tracks featured in its collaboration efforts. First, it starts with brainstorming with physicians who have ideas. The second is advancing preclinical technologies, bringing prototypes all the way to early feasibility studies.
Third, the company introduced a ” Invest ” program for startups raising money. Medtronic starts by receiving a pitch and figuring out what the startup wants to do. Then, the company puts them on a fast track to get in front of ventures.
Finally, Crittenden introduced “Accelerate,” a program for accelerating startups nearing commercialization.
“Accelerate is the one that fires me up because this is really combining the strengths of the global footprint of Medtronic with all the moonshots and the speed and the expertise that very narrowly focus on startups,” Crittenden said. “What we’re doing here is creating a platform to advance all startups and get them sort of a global footprint and global reach.”
Volz said the Co-Lab idea is very innovation-heavy but still addresses a purpose-filled space in stroke prevention.
He pointed to statistics stating that one in four people will have a stroke. Meanwhile, only around 10% of strokes are treated globally. Co-Lab is a product of Medtronic feeling compelled to put pressure on innovation in this space, Volz said.
“We need to make sure that innovation in the stroke space see the light of day,” he said. “That’s what we’re committed to here is making sure that very necessary innovation has the chance to succeed and ultimately to help as many people as possible.”
‘A big part’ of Medtronic’s role
Speaking exclusively to MassDevice, Volz said anyone would be “hard-pressed” to find someone who hasn’t been touched by stroke in some way throughout their life. That drives his sense of obligation to address it by accelerating new innovations in stroke treatment.
He said he’s “blessed to lead the largest neurovascular business in the world” at the medtech giant. That comes with expertise, resources and reach that can make a mark. Whether it be working with startups “drawing on a napkin” or producing technology that’s ready for patient use, Volz and Medtronic feel they have the capability to help bring innovation to the market.
He added that co-Lab represents a mechanism to welcome volume and put those startups on the pathway to commercialization.
“We are the largest medtech company in the world,” Volz said. “So, it’s not uncommon for early-stage companies to want to connect with us to figure out how we can do things together. We built it out at the neurovascular level and make sure that it’s built to succeed. Ultimately, those that choose to engage us have a really positive experience, and we know that it’s something that needs to exist.
“We feel that’s a big part of our role to put something like this in place.”