Industry-Sponsored Research Week

Emory takes novel approach to engaging industry in “living lab”

By David Schwartz
Published: August 12th, 2019

The Emory Healthcare Innovation Hub is certainly not the first example of a major healthcare center launching an ambitious undertaking in the pursuit of innovative healthcare solutions, but its leadership insists its approach is nevertheless unique.

A lot of medical centers have set up institutes and other different structures, but what we envisioned was a real novel approach,” says Will ElLaissi, managing director of the Emory Healthcare Innovation Hub. “Even though we had great faculty and staff and a very robust clinical staff, it was not enough to develop and scale healthcare innovation. That need existed but was not created before standing up a hub that brought industry to the table as partners in an innovation ecosystem with us.”

Industry partners, he notes, have the resources to not only build things, but to build them the right way. “We’ve run into a lot of opportunities where we might have been able to get a couple of pilot projects off the ground, but when we wanted to get to scale we’ve always run into problems if we did not have the robustness of industry at the table. They have the scale and different channel plays to help reach market potential,” he explains.

Industry partners that help comprise the hub’s “ecosystem” include Konica Minolta Healthcare, Novo Nordisk, Royal Philips, Stryker, and Sharecare, a digital health company that was the first industry partner in the innovation hub.

All of the other assets of the ecosystem are incorporated into Emory, says James Lewis, CEO of 11/TEN Innovation Partners, whose Demand Driven Innovation™ model “helps identify improvement opportunities through the eyes of the user,” according to Emory. The Emory system, Lewis notes, “includes a school of public health and all of the other schools and academic centers, medicine, and other surrounding institutions like the CDC.”

The “full-blown” ecosystem, if you will, “is made up of user-experienced researchers, solution designers and systems integrators, as well as strategists and VCs who can create the entire perspective for not only how to design and develop solutions, but also how to commercialize them,” says Lewis. “If you think about that talent and link it with the clinical and research resources of Emory and the expertise of our partners, that is the efficient ecosystem that we refer to.”

“From our side, our desires and needs very much mirror what Emory wants to accomplish,” adds Kirsten Doerfert, senior vice president of Konica Minolta Healthcare. “We want to develop new solutions to solve real problems in the world and also make them scalable, to take them out of our institution and [see them] scaled across entire healthcare system.”

Doerfert says that looking at what Emory offered in the hub gave Konica that ability. “Ours is a world-class company collaborating with a world-class healthcare enterprise that’s so much more than just a hospital or a clinic,” she notes. “It’s an opportunity to collaborate, and to drive and validate solutions.”

The other attraction, she says, was the ability to collaborate with the other industry partners Emory was bringing in. “We can jointly solve problems we might not individually solve or recognize,” she says. “The magnitude of problems or solutions multiple companies can bring together is very much in alignment with our core strategy.”

A detailed article on Emory’s “living lab” and its industry partnership strategy appears in the August issue of University-Industry Engagement Advisor. For complete subscription details, CLICK HERE.

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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