By SYLVIA REYNOLDS
September 8, 2015
I have been following the SoundHealth (www.sound-health.org) folks for only a short while, but I continue to be impressed with their sensible, but yet disruptive approach to medical innovation. I give them credit for what they are doing, as it certainly is “far outside the box” in thinking and ingenuity. But, it makes sense, at least to me and the people that are gravitating to them.
To dig in a little deeper I interviewed SoundHealth’s two co-founders Dr. Bob Sewak and Michael Miller. My findings were that this duo complimented each other’s thinking brilliantly. Sewak’s grounded tenure representing the academic and scientific community contrasted by Miller’s unbridled enthusiasm to push the envelope for the benefit of all stakeholders… is a story any journalist should love to explore.
So, here is what I was able to learn…
Their business model revolves around the concept that great medical innovation need the support of unbiased academic research, the political, financial and emotional support of the charitable foundations seeking medical solutions which support their cause and a professional team that understands how to commercialize that innovation to successfully bring it into the marketplace.
Ok, I know what you’re thinking… Simple – right? And, you’re correct!
However, it’s inside that simplicity, where the brilliance really shines and, getting there is so much easier said… than done.
As Miller tells it: “…we spent north of 3 years, just working out the details of how to engineer and structure the business model. Every time we’d snap a puzzle piece into place, another one popped out of alignment. Whether it was legal, social, real or perceived, big or small (like: how to deal with the Intellectual Property and ownership) we had to painstakingly think and work our way through each step – from the opposing side. In the end, what we accomplished, what we’ve built is a well-designed, fine-tuned, fully functioning business machine.” Adding: “…and, all of that perseverance and sweat is beginning to pay off.”
Needless to say, I wanted to understand more about what he meant by that so, we dug down a little deeper.
What SoundHealth offers medical innovators, according to Miller: “…is simple, if you have a project that qualifies, SoundHealth’s program will:
1) be responsible for the necessary R&D resources and commercialization costs…
2) drive the project to a lucrative licensing (or other) deal business arrangement, while moving on a fast-track to an exit, skipping all of the typical hurdles of building and running a business.
…and the best part is, you (the inventor) don’t give up any equity in your company.”
Now, of course, that sounds like an almost unbelievable invitation so, I pressed: “…what does the fine print look like?” And, here are the general deal points.
Typically speaking for consideration, a medical innovation/solution must fulfill the following criteria:
1. must be at the stage of a “working proof of concept”
2. must solve an identifiable medical problem
3. must have a quantifiable commercial demand
4. must be of interest to a charitable organization
5. must be able to be completed and licensed within a 2 year period…
So what kind of “innovations” have they attracted?
In the 2 months they’ve had their doors open to the public, and have been looking at opportunities, they’ve produced a pipeline of some very interesting and exciting products. While I’m not at liberty to talk about specific “things” they’re working on… I can say I was astonished at the selection and diversity of innovation they are involved in.
Their approach, for bringing medical innovation into the market, is remarkable, and after speaking with several of the innovators they’re working with, I quickly understood their enthusiasm, also.
Not only were these innovators bringing real world solutions to people that need them the most but, all the people involved are on a pathway for extraordinary financially rewarding exits. The truth is: the bio-tech markets are still producing wealth, where many other sectors have retracted. Now, if things continue as planned, SoundHealth is destined to become one of the most outstanding and profitable wealth creation engines of this decade. Not just for the founders – because, as I understand it, in their business model – Everybody Involved Wins.
I also learned that SoundHealth is creating what they referred to as a “hive effect” wherein all of the stakeholders, no matter what project they brought into the program, get to share in each other’s success. Equally as fascinating, and unlike traditional incubators where the outcome of success are hoped to be 1 in a 100, every project in the SoundHealth program already has a pre-qualified exit plan in-the-works… essentially making each project, a “Build to order”.
My take away is: keep an eye on SoundHealth and, if you have a medical innovation – you want to commercialize – you should seriously look into their program.