The 2017 edition of the Southeastern Medical Device Association (SEMDA) annual conference has come and gone, and this year was better than ever- affirming why GCMI and T3 Labs continues to invest in the conference year after year. Here are just a few of the highlights from this year’s conference titled “Innovation: From concept to commercialization.”

The plenary speaker lineup was astounding and provided a well-rounded view of the medical device industry

Aimee Copeland shared her inspiring story of surviving necrotizing fasciitis, a rare flesh-eating bacteria that took all four of her limbs. Her words struck a chord and provided us a glimpse into the patient’s point of view. Her story served as a vivid reminder as to why we continue to innovate- to better patients’ experience and save lives. When learning how to tie her hair into a ponytail, Aimee shared, it took her over 200 tries. She attempted a different strategy on try 201 and she got it. “If I would have given up when I was frustrated during my 100th try I would have never figured it out- I can tell you If you aren’t willing to keep trying you don’t want it bad enough.” So keep trying. Keep innovating.

Don Turner, Global Head, Commercialization, IBM Watson Health spoke during lunch on day one of SEMDA 2017. He focused on cognitive systems, their impact on the future of healthcare and how innovation must be a collaborative effort. Engineers and developers must be creating and meeting clinical needs with the end user in mind- the physicians. He provided a valuable perspective on medtech innovation, especially for the early stage medical device companies, entrepreneurs, and physician innovators.

We particularly enjoyed hearing from Dr. Cohn about the Texas Innovation Center’s artificial heart program because we too have a heart and respiratory assist device program with capabilities and expertise to perform preclinical studies that constitute of complicated extracorporeal circuits. Dr. Cohn presented a complete timeline of the development of the artificial heart. The point? Innovation is a process that can sometimes take decades of innovation, and the right partners such as a preclinical CRO to perform the right testing is crucial to the development process .

Related: Selecting a New Preclinical Trials Partner – T3 Labs & ALung’s Hemolung RAS in a Calf Model

Implementing integrated marketing strategies and exploring the politics of innovation

The breakout sessions led by industry experts made for a robust and value-added program! GCMI and T3 Labs were well represented during these sessions.

During SEMDA, Deepal Panchal, Program Director at T3 Labs, served on a panel lead by Paul Snyder, VP of Healthcare for Write2Market, and gave a ‘boots on the ground’ perspective on what it takes to move the meter using value-based marketing strategies within the medtech innovation industry. Dee is integral in the day-to-day implementation of T3’s marketing strategies and tactics. She spoke to giving the sponsors at T3 a platform to tell their preclinical story- the challenges and triumphs leading up to FDA submission.

“At GCMI and T3 Labs we are very focused in our outreach and have generated 20+ leads in the last year from our marketing efforts,” says Dee. “I work to edit the content that we post online but more importantly I am the eyes and ears for my sponsors.”

On day 2 of SEMDA, GCMI and T3 Labs CEO, Tiffany Wilson took the main stage to lead the panel “The Politics of Innovation.” She curated a power packed panel featuring Craig Buerstatte, Director, Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship for the US Department of Commerce, Russ Lipari, Founder & CEO of Health Connect South, and Ashley Wittorf, Executive Director & Sr. Vice President of AdvaMed Accel. The four discussed the current political landscape and how it influences investment in innovation in the US medtech industry.

The takeaways were many but to highlight a few…

  • Cuts to NIH are not likely but other cuts may happen so get involved and engage the organizations that communicate to Congress to ensure innovation is funded.
  • FDA operates on a pendulum- right now it is more collaborative. We hear often from the FDA “please come and talk to us.”
  • State representatives do not know what you need until you tell them. If they are going to advocate for you they need to know why. Make sure to be succinct with why what you do matters. Know your audience.

Are you a medtech innovator seeking to bring novel technologies and therapies to life- concept to cure, through design and development, preclinical testing and FDA approval all the way to commercialization? Contact GCMI and T3 Labs to learn more about the robust medical device ecosystem and the Southeast’s available resources for innovators.