Medical Device Daily Contributing Writer

Building on its existing efforts in the area of medical-technology evaluation, 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.

Simply put, the goal of the Beaumont Commercialization Center is to help manufacturers and inventors bring their ideas for new medical devices and technology to reality. The center's work is 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 Medical Device Daily that the newly named center evolved from the work done by the Beaumont Technology Usability Center (BTUC), which opened in 2005. BTUC has been involved with design and evaluation of medical technology 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 Beaumont Commercialization Center "has a lot of work coming in we have many, many customers." He said the center is doing "a lot of product-validation work, along with human-factor engineering."

According to Shallman, Beaumont essentially said, in setting up 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 MDD. "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 Commercializatioin 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."

Some of the sectors within which the center either already is operating or expects to are cardiovascular, neurosurgery, orthopedics and radiation oncology. "Those are large markets with a lot of new-company and new-product activity," Shallman said.

Overall, he said, "the medical-device industry is large and growing," and Beaumont's new center figures to stay busy as a result.

Shallman noted that Michigan is making a substantial effort in the area of offering development incentives for life-sciences companies. Closings in the pharmaceutical sector of the state have meant that there are a lot of experienced life sciences hands available to staff start-up efforts, and the well-documented decline of the state's signature automaking sector has made available a lot of engineering types.

"The talent and know-how are here," he said, "so med-tech is getting increasing attention."

The overarching goal of the Beaumont Commercialization Center, Shallman said, "is to help with the development of products that eventually will come back through the doors of our hospitals and others."

Steve Ebben, VP of planning and marketing for Beaumont Services Co., shared that thought.

"Physicians or other inventors often have a brilliant concept for a medical device but lack the resources and time that is needed to make that idea a reality," he said. "When the services of the Commercialization Center are combined with the ideas of inventors, the innovation that results will help shape the future of healthcare."

Beaumont Hospitals is a three-hospital regional healthcare system with a total of 1,696 licensed beds.