Tech Transfer eNews Blog

Drive for innovation education expected to boost tech transfer at Mass General Brigham

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: August 3rd, 2022

A detailed effort on the organization-wide innovation training program at Mass General Brigham and its impact on commercialization activity appears in the July issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe and access the complete article, or for further subscription details, click here.

In most TTOs, commercialization training is typically offered only to those researchers, faculty, or clinicians who express an interest and have an idea for creating a product or company. While that’s fine, what if you could provide that same training to essentially the entire organization so everyone — particularly potential inventors and innovators — had a baseline knowledge of what it takes to bring an idea to the marketplace? At Mass General Brigham (MGB) Hospital, that’s exactly what is now happening, and leaders there hope it pays off in a significant boost to commercialization activity.

The effort is being led by Marc D. Succi, MD, an inventor and radiologist at MGB. When he was a resident physician, his colleagues often asked him — as the inventor in the group — how to translate their ideas into a product that could help patients. The lack of knowledge among his colleagues convinced him that there was a huge gap in medical education: academic medical centers do not train physicians to innovate.

Succi confirmed his conviction by surveying physicians in his department, including Department Chair and Radiologist-in-Chief James Brink, MD. He asked them how comfortable they were with the patent process, drug development, creating a prototype, and starting a business on a scale of one to five. “Everyone was super uncomfortable, which is what I expected,” Succi says. “So then I asked, how are we supposed to improve patient care if most of us don’t understand how to translate ideas or inventions to new products? In response to his own question, he launched an education-focused incubator called Medically Engineered Solutions in Healthcare (MESH). The education component, MESH Core, launched in 2018.

MGB Corporate Innovation then hired Succi a few years ago to help mentor clinician and researcher innovators in addition to continuing his active emergency radiology practice. The office coordinates corporate relationships and IP management across MGB, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, Mass Eye and Ear, and McLean Hospital and is one of the world’s largest medical center TTOs. Succi founded and continues to lead the MESH Incubator, which has four divisions: MESH Core (education), MESH Innovation and Operations Research Center (MESH IO), MESH Device Accelerator, and the MESH Innovation Teams Biodesign Program.

Succi offers MESH Core every fall for MGB and other hospitals. He designed the program to introduce faculty, attendings, residents, and all health care professionals to the basic language of health care innovation. It is a one-week rotation open to all employees. “The one-week rotation is the same as when an attending or trainee rotates through, for example, the minimally invasive bariatric service. It’s protected time to rotate through innovation service.”

More recently an online component of the program was added, expanding MESH Core to the entire institution. MGB has more than 60,000 employees, so Succi converted the one-week rotation to a 20-hour master class working closely with the Innovation Office to strategize and record the content.

The online version of MESH Core has been watched for a cumulative 3,500 hours by MGB employees to date and contains lessons available on-demand. Course topics include prototyping, entrepreneurship, writing patents and business plans, and other innovation-related skills. Succi also built a companion platform called the Innovation MESH Network, where the course resides.

Innovators across MGB and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, and other institutions have access to the MESH Core curriculum through the Innovation MESH Network, and more than 1,600 innovators have registered to receive the content. The platform also functions as a private network that allows innovators to seek out and connect with each other based on structured innovation-related experiences.

The course is not required, but healthcare professionals at MGB are highly encouraged to take it. “To have over 1,600 physicians and researchers opt-in, spend their time in the evenings taking a course — that alone is a huge outcome for a corporate tech transfer office to connect at this depth with your developing innovators,” Succi comments.

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