EDBlog — AdvaMed 2016 Medical Device Conference

Guest Writer: TO Health! Executive Director — Ella Korets-Smith

Minneapolis is a city that punches above its weight. Despite being a smaller city with a population of just over 400,000 people, Minneapolis is positioned to rival global juggernauts Boston and San Francisco for #1 Medical Device cluster in the world. Minnesota is the champion of medical devices in the United States, developing more devices than any other state in the union. Over 9,000 complex medical devices have been developed in Minnesota, largely thanks to the ability of the cluster at large to accelerate development — almost 200 days faster than the US average. But this is only part of the battle.

I had the tremendous opportunity to meet some of the great minds of the community while visiting Minneapolis for the medical device conference AdvaMed 2016. According to Frank Jaskulke of Minnesota’s cluster organization Medical Alley, to be successful in the medical device market, understanding procurement is key: “The medical device market is not challenging because of regulatory considerations but because of procurement and adoption.”

This is the key reason Minneapolis keeps pace with global competitors. Getting your device into the market is a step that is on average 30 days faster in Minnesota compared to the US average, meaning you are able to develop, sell, and get reimbursed faster in Minnesota than virtually anywhere. To achieve these results Minnesota has many programs supporting medical devices development. For example, Minnesota’s Angel Tax Credit provides a 25-percent credit to investors that put money into startup medical device companies. Understanding how difficult accessing capital is and providing this kind of innovative solution to ease the process of developing products is a huge part of why Minnesota has its advantage; its products get off the ground, and get adopted into the market quickly, which is often the most precarious time for entrepreneurs.

What is the benefit of adopting innovation quickly and seamlessly? Minnesota was rated #1 in healthcare performance by the Commonwealth Fund, a private, non-partisan foundation that measures health care performance. The state is recognized for not only adopting innovations but also for minimizing growth in healthcare costs, providing support for local entrepreneurs, and ultimately giving the best patient care possible.

Can Toronto learn any lessons from our neighbours to the south? The general sentiment of the local ecosystem is that procurement is difficult in Ontario. As stated by Melicent Lavers-Sailly from Medtronic “In many cases, we have third world access with first world access issues.” The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) is a potentially amazing resource to help establish a local market because it is the largest single customer of medical devices in the world, however because of its size, adoption and adaptation is slow. OHIP could be used to create a “home country advantage” and leverage its diverse population to become an innovation test bed for launching global products to the international market.

Ontario (and Canada) now have a model to emulate to make local, innovating healthcare companies successful. A plan for innovation adoption means both growth and efficiency; innovation can simultaneously stimulate the local economy and fight rising healthcare costs — all the while improving care to all Ontarians.

Ella is Executive Director of TO Health! She is an experienced business development and marketing professional in the biotechnology, pharma and medical device industries with a track record of closing deals and leading successful marketing and business development programs. Her extensive and growing network of business leaders extends her reach to customers and partners in all key markets in North America and around the world. Ella has an MSc in Medical Genetics from the University of Toronto and an MBA from Dalhousie University.

About TO Health!

TO Health! is an industry-led cluster organization raising the profile of the Toronto region’s Human Health & Sciences (HHS) cluster. As a facilitator of global opportunities for the cluster, TO Health! collaborates with partners locally and globally to accelerate the growth and impact of the Toronto region.

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