Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Breaking down barriers – the best way to positively impact everybody’s health


We talk to Mirren Mandalia, Senior Director, New Ventures & Transactions, Johnson & Johnson Innovation about the company’s vision and his visit to the MedFIT conference


Recently, I attended MedFIT – a conference which aims to foster innovation in medical technology. More than 600 people gathered for two days of panel discussions, one-to-one meetings, keynote speeches, and Start-up Slams. Participants flew into Strasbourg from across the globe, with individuals from start-ups, large corporates, academia and investors all in attendance.

J&J’s Mirren Mandalia

This broad mix of backgrounds was great to see, as the collaboration between these groups will really help to drive future innovations. The world’s most pressing health challenges can’t be solved by a single person or company – which is why we need to break down barriers and work together to positively impact human health.

A great idea can come from anywhere

This is part of the ethos behind Johnson & Johnson Innovation. We want to help turn breakthrough ideas ­– wherever they come from – into market realities. Over the last five years alone, we’ve created more than 140 partnerships across EMEA in a range of different sectors, including medical devices.

For instance, Johnson & Johnson recently acquired Orthotaxy, a French company which develops robotic-assisted surgery platforms. This kind of technology has the potential to improve patient outcomes while adding value by standardising procedures and reducing operating room time. And through Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, our corporate venture capital arm, we’ve recently participated in a Series C funding round for Zebra Medical Vision, an Israeli medical imaging start-up that uses machine- and deep-learning to build tools for radiologists. From incubation to investment and acquisition – these are examples of how partnerships can be used to bring innovations to life.

Building technologies across the care continuum

This depth and breadth of innovation was also evident at MedFIT. At the Start-up Slams, there were seventeen companies addressing a wide range of health challenges – from those who had developed a virtual reality platform for medical hypnosis, to those seeking to minimise the invasiveness of polycystic ovary syndrome treatment.

With such a multitude of different technologies, it’s particularly interesting to consider how these technologies could be used across the whole patient journey. For example, digital tools could be used to prepare patients for surgery, then guide them through post-operative rehabilitation. These technologies could help ensure best practice within the operating room.

Collaboration is vital for building this connected ecosystem, but by connecting these solutions throughout the continuum of care, we can provide better patient outcomes and more efficient procedures.

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It’s (still) all about data, data, data

Another theme that came through strongly at MedFIT was the importance of data and the insights that can be drawn from that data.

Continually gathering real-world evidence is critical for conversations with both potential partners, as well as with regulatory bodies. Moving forward, this is only going to become more important – meaning that medical device companies will need to strengthen their data capture and analytics capabilities.

More than a device

The changing expectations of patients, payers and prescribers was also evident at MedFIT. Far more is expected from medical device companies now than just new products and features – and integrated programs are becoming increasingly prevalent.

From my experience as a surgeon, I know that there’s huge potential for medical devices to improve the experiences of both patient and physicians. By supporting great ideas, we have the potential to drive better outcomes, and even reduce costs. Which is why we are using our knowledge and experience to facilitate innovation and make a positive impact on human health worldwide.

About the author

Journalist and editor Kathryn Reilly has worked in consumer, contract and medical writing for more than 20 years.

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