Technology transfer through dialogue
The iNNOVATION fORUM of the Baden-Württemberg MicroMountains Network has just experienced an exciting new project. Researchers and the medical device industry took part in an intensive, moderated dialogue, providing them with the possibility to make new contacts and improve their chances for future innovations.
The first event of this kind took place in the Medical Technology Centre in Tuttlingen. Further meetings are to follow and will, amongst other things, focus on microtechnology.
“It was worth coming here,” said Dr. Andy Wolff from Israel who came to Tuttlingen to present his ideas on the application of new oral medical products. Wolff has developed intra-oral microsystems for long-term diagnoses, patient monitoring, drug dosage and the electrical stimulation of the mouth mucosa in people suffering from a dry mouth. The systems, which are implanted into the oral cavity or denture, can be used to treat addiction, certain cancers or epilepsy, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Wolff’s company, Saliwell, is looking for industrial partners around the world that can take its inventions to maturity. Innovation coach Dr.-Ing. Mechthild Wolber initiated talks with German companies which have led to new contacts and concrete starting points for the further development of the company’s products. The Medical Technology iNNOVATION fORUM was an excellent forum for many companies to make new contacts and get new ideas.
Professor Helmut Breuninger, skin surgeon at the University Hospital Tübingen (UKT), also received a lot of interest from the industry. The UKT has developed plastic clips that improve the healing of wounds after surgical intervention. The shape and springlike effect of the clips prevent the edges of the wounds from being squeezed and hence do not lead to undesired scars. The clips can be put in place by a single person, something that reduces the number of people required for surgery. An additional benefit is that the patients can remove the clips themselves without the need of special tools. Prof. Breuninger is convinced that the clips can be produced at low cost, fully automatically and in large numbers. He used the forum to show how plastics companies and the hospital could work together and develop the clips further: computer simulations, application development, investment into injection moulds, licences and commercialisation.
Expansion of networks
The MicroMountains Network association, a business and technology initiative of the Black Forest/Baar/Heuberg region, has received excellent feedback and has plans to further promote this type of dialogue-oriented technology transfer. “Our concept provides both sides, science and small- and medium-sized companies, with new and sustainable ideas for closer partnership and application-oriented product development,” said the MicroMountains Network chairman Thomas Albiez. Mechthild Wolber summarised the outcome of the forum: “The forum was very successful. We were able to create a very friendly atmosphere. Some of the scientists were pleased to be able to present their findings directly to the industry in a small, personal circle, rather than presenting to a purely scientific audience. Companies that participated in the iNNOVATION fORUM enjoyed the expert talks and the ability to substantially increase their networks through new contacts. Some of the companies also found new investment possibilities and hope to pursue them further in the future. These include, for example, the development of intelligent implants and regenerative biomaterials, navigation solutions for minimally invasive surgery, endoscopy, diagnostics and dialysis as well as the application of special software.
The two-day meeting had the objective of instigating innovation through the moderated exchange of information between researchers and business people. About 50 companies participated in this first meeting. In order to broaden this approach, the future forums will invite a greater number of small- and medium-sized companies. The forum is organised by the MicroMountains Network in collaboration with Dr.-Ing. Mechthild Wolber, the Black Forest-Baar-Heuberg Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the VDI’s Medical Technology division and the German Society for Biomedical Engineering within VDE. The EU supports the project with Enterprise Europe Networks (EEN) funds.
Source: Press release of the Villingen-Schwenningen Chamber of Commerce and Industry - 30 July 2008
Project leader at the Black Forest-Baar-Heuberg Chamber of Commerce and Industry
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