BLOG by Dr Kate Brooks: Top 5 Boston medtech take-aways - not all lobster tails and chowder

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Last month more than 3,000 of the world’s top medtech innovators gathered in Boston MA, for the annual MedTech Conference. 

Featuring thought-leading plenary speakers, panel discussions, business development opportunities and an unparalleled platform for demonstrating new tech, the MedTech Conference is the must-attend event for the industry’s prominent and most promising companies seeking capital investment and market access opportunities.

This year MTPConnect led a delegation of 30 representatives from across the Australian medtech ecosystems (startups, SMEs, research institutes and academia). I was privileged to be part of this delegation at week five in my new role leading the MTPConnect WA Life Sciences Innovation Hub, a partnership we have formed with the Western Australian Government and the University of Western Australia to support and accelerate growth of the medtech, pharmaceutical, biotech and digital health (MTP) sector in WA.

The MTPConnect team with the 2019 Australian delegation to the MedTech Conference in Boston.

The commercialisation of medical technologies offers tremendous economic growth opportunity for Australian researchers, entrepreneurs and SMEs. The market is growing – forecast by Mercer Capital to reach US$440 billion in 2020 - and the majority of these medtech customers are based in the United States of America (USA).

Taking any research result and translating it to a product to take to market is hard work. For medtech ventures there is the added complication of approvals, compliance and healthcare reimbursement regulations.

Shared below are my favourite take-aways from an exclusive briefing session we organised during the conference to connect  our Australian delegates with leaders across the USA medtech commercialisation sector.

1. Doctors don’t buy a platform, they buy a solution

Any successful commercial product must solve a problem. Medtech is no different. If you want clinicians and hospitals to use your product, then it needs to address an identified felt need. When hospital innovation programs are assessing a start-up idea, they will often seek the opinion of their clinicians before making a decision. So seek out an internal supporter before you pitch.

2. A Team with B Tech is better than a B Team with A Tech

The skillset for developing a product is very different to the skillset for taking it to market. Investors assume the tech works (it’s a given). They want to know can the team work. Having a team of experienced people, with a commercialisation track record, is paramount for taking any idea to market, no matter how good the idea is.

3. Validate the market first

Understand the market potential before embarking on the five-plus years journey of clinical trials, approvals and commercialisation. Look also at the whole value chain to understand who benefits from your product (potential partners) and who is impacted (potential resistors). 

4. Start with the end in mind

What does success look like for you? Is it to have your venture acquired by one of the top medtech firms? New medtech ventures commonly need approvals, compliance and market validation in place first before acquisition. Always have your end goal in sight.

5. Launch somewhere in the USA (not in the USA)

The USA has the largest medical technology market in the word; of the top 20 medtech multinationals (by revenue), 12 are based in the USA (MTPConnect report, How Global MedTech & Pharma Corporates Engage with Australia, 2019). There are several geographic clusters across the USA. One cluster alone provides the environment for medtech entrepreneurial success and growth. Australian medtech companies should pick a USA cluster to first establish in and then from which to scale. Austrade can provide you with the warm USA introductions you will need.

The presenters at the exclusive MTPConnect Australian Delegation Briefing were: Michael Gietl (J.P. Morgan), Kelly Krajnik (Mayo Clinic Ventures), Frank Jaskulke (Medical Alley Association), Michael Dempsey (Centre for the Integration of Medicine and Innovation Technology, CIMIT), Dr Nate Hafer (UMass Centre for Clinical and Translational Science), Elizabeth Thomas (Austrade Boston).

My podcast chat with Austrade's Elizabeth Thomas in Boston.


For more insights from Medtech Boston 2019 check out the special Boston MTPConnect podcasts episodes.

MTPConnect will lead an Australian delegation to Medtech 2020 (this time in Toronto, 5-7 October). Please contact Libby Pearce (Libby.Pearce@mtpconnect.org.au) if you would like to express your interest.