By David Reeves
The medical innovation landscape is littered with valuable products that have not and may never make it to market. And with these failures, the general public suffers because it never had the opportunity to benefit from these innovations.
Such is the dilemma of the thousands of products being developed by inventors, individuals who simply don’t have the knowledge, finances, or connections to bring these innovations to market.
Michael Miller, founder of a Boca Raton-based “medical innovation agency”, was one of the keynote speakers at the Insight Innovation Exchange Health (IIEX) Conference in Philadelphia recently.
His firm, SoundHealth, combines the expertise of the inventors, the missions of funding foundations, and resources of research institutions to develop what is essentially a market-ready medical solution for presentation to potential purchasers of the product.
Miller was joined on the panel by executives from InCrowd, AstraZeneca, and Merck.
“Getting a product to market can be a time-consuming and cumbersome exercise,” said Miller. “Quite frankly most inventors simply don’t have the ‘muscle’ to usher a product through the various stages of development. And, even if they have a mature product, they don’t have the knowledge of how to market these products directly to the consumer.”
Miller explained that inventors must recognize that there is a new model, one that involves looking for an “exit strategy” before the product gets to market.
“Too often, innovators spend too much money and time developing a product, and they run out of capital, can’t secure approvals, can’t afford manufacturing, and can’t raise more capital,” he said. “The unfortunate reality is that these products die on the vine. And, another product sits on the shelf.
“This is a vicious cycle in the medical innovation world. The real tragedy is two-fold. First the people that could benefit from these products don’t get the opportunity to use them, and second the innovators don’t get to benefit financially from their creations.”
SoundHealth streamlines the process of moving these medical innovations from “bench to bed- seamlessly”.
“All we ask is that products be relatively mature,” said Miller during his presentation. “They can’t be a concept written on a napkin. We then consider which distribution outlets (i.e. medical device, pharmaceutical, biotech, etc.) may want to purchase it following a conditional evaluation. That is what we mean by working backwards from the exit strategy.”
Through relationships with various funding organizations and research & development entities, SoundHealth is able to deliver market-ready products to purchasing and distribution firms.
“Our process minimizes the need for inventors to raise capital, hire lots of people and spend time lost in all the drama” he said. “It’s our business to take early stage innovations, and working with the innovators, rapidly finish it to the point it’s ready for commercialization.
The interest in SoundHealth’s model was evident at the IIEX conference.
“One of the major concerns of medical innovators who were there was getting the product to market,” said Miller. “We are now in the process of evaluating a number of products from the conference, and we’re confident that several will become part of our growing portfolio.
“We also have the attention of the distribution and manufacturers who are continually seeking the next great medical innovation.”
One key feature to this unique business model is, that everyone involved benefits.
“The inventor earns significant money through the ultimate sale,” said Miller. “Funding organizations support and sponsor medical innovation that helps their constituents. Research institutions are being funded to conduct research. And, distribution and manufacturing companies receive the latest medical innovation that may save lives while improving their bottom lines.”
Miller added that many of the inventors are physicians who are developing products as a way to enhance their medical practices or even phase out of their practice altogether with the hopes of retiring.
“Some are inventing products directly related to their medical expertise,” said Miller. “They have a passion for medicine and their patients’ well-being and this is just another way for them to contribute, all while pursuing the American dream of making a significant amount of money.”