BB&T National Editor

Beaumont Hospitals (Royal Oak, Michigan), a three-hospital regional healthcare system in the Greater Detroit area, has launched a new resource for medical device developers, the Beaumont Commercialization Center. Beaumont says that the center will be focused on turning patented technologies from inventors at Beaumont, other medical institutions and businesses into market-ready medical devices for manufacturers to acquire or license.

John Shallman, director of strategic development for the Commercialization Center, told BB&T that the initiative evolved from the work done by the Beaumont Technology Usability Center (BTUC), opened in 2005 to design and evaluate medical technologies used in the hospital system. "Taking the work of our clinical assessment and product engineering folks, we have found that this competency is valuable in product development activities, he said.

Services offered include intellectual property creation, design and engineering; prototype development; usability testing; safety and efficacy assessment; and regulatory approval preparation. Beaumont says the center is the first of its kind to blend product development knowledge with the experience of physicians and clinical staff at one of the highest-volume hospitals in the nation.

Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak is ranked first in the U.S. for inpatient admissions and second for its number of surgeries, while Beaumont Hospital, Troy ranks third for number of admissions and fourth in surgeries among hospitals of its size.

Shallman, who has worked for medical-device companies and state-level economic development departments, said that the Commercialization Center "has a lot of work coming in and is doing "a lot of product-validation work, along with human-factor engineering.

According to Shallman, Beaumont essentially said, in establishing the center, "Let's add to the spectrum of services and systems we can provide. Now we can help all the way from back-of-the-napkin designs to post-marketing evaluations.

The "post-marketing side will get a lot of attention. "There's so much more post-marketing information that you need to understand now, he told BB&T. "It really does take a hospital to be able to capture this type of information. He noted that the center essentially has two broad lines of work — providing product-development services to outside companies and "developing our own intellectual property, helping bring the ideas of its physicians and other employees to fruition.

Along that line, Shallman said the Commercialization Center "is starting to see more start-up companies bringing their products to us. He said that especially for smaller companies looking to be acquired by larger players in the sector, "those products have to be vetted before an acquisition can take place.

Shallman noted that Michigan - recently hit by downturns in various sectors, and Pfizer's withdrawal from several of its facilities in the state last year — is making a substantial effort in the area of offering development incentives for life-sciences companies. The pharmaceutical sector closings have made a great many experienced life science hands available to staff start-up efforts. "The talent and know-how are here, he said, "so med-tech is getting increasing attention.