Innovation

Innovation

Medtech in France: the achievements and the future



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Silvère Jauny, the CEO of Versailles-based technological innovators, Spin’R – who are currently developing a robotic medical assistant, talks to us about his hopes for French medtech 

France

MTE What are the greatest challenges to medical innovation in France right now?

SJ In France, as elsewhere, you can see a high rate of medical innovations in both the public and private sectors. I think that France’s healthcare system impedes the adoption of innovative technologies. The increased administrative complexity that one needs to navigate to get a product from concept to market, in itself, is a great challenge.   

Moreover, France – a country that reveres scientists and engineers – tends to favour research and development of highly technical advanced solutions such as robotic surgery, artificial heart, micro-robots, medical imaging, over the design and the implementation of organisational and practical solutions. But we know that, ultimately, these organisational and practical solutions have much more economic and social impact. The current crisis we see in hospitals and retirement homes is a striking example. We are at the forefront of technology while the entire ‘human system’ is lacking. 

France’s fascination with developing record-breaking technology – for example Concorde, the high-speed train TGV, the A380, nuclear power – has shaped its economy, its industry, and its government policy over the last 50 years if not more. Law and business policymaking has been historically geared towards the elite group of companies within the CAC 40, ignoring small- and medium-sized companies where the vast majority of innovations are being created.  

France’s public healthcare system is in dire need of transformation. Not only is its deficit growing but, as the absolute and relative numbers of elderly people increase, economic and social projections show an unsustainable situation in the near future. Transforming France’s medical system through innovations is a short-term necessity. I see that the current government is pushing in that direction and I believe there is hope for change.   

Silvère Jauny

 

 

MTE What does France excel at in medtech?

SJ Our country has tremendous scientific potential in fundamental and clinical research.  Public organizations – universities, research institutes (Pasteur and Inserm to name two), and state-run hospitals – operate together to train word-class researchers in medical sciences, but with the drawback of being highly dependent on public funding. As a consequence, we are struggling to come up with applied innovations. 

MTE What is exciting about future possibilities in medtech?

SJ The push for reform from our current government gives me hope. In itself this is exciting as there is consensus that the goal is to support entrepreneurs in bringing their product and services to market. This situation is all the more favourable, as there is a great profusion of actors and initiatives. It remains relatively simple today to set up projects and to find funding which should allow acceleration in this domain. 

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Talking about exciting future possibilities there are a few that stand out: genetics, nanomaterials, automated screenings, HPC (High Performance Computing), bioengineering and 3D printing.   

Above all, there are the almost daily developments in AI that will change forever how human works, how we design and find solutions and treatments, and finally how we implement them. But at this point the timeline is unclear, although we know it is exponential. 

MTE What advice would you give to anyone seeking to innovate?

SJ Innovation is about more than technical or technological advances in existing products and services. Right now, the real innovation is about creating new market spaces focused on applications (cf. Blue Ocean Strategy) fostering competition. 

Innovation should focus on improving the user-experience – whether the term ‘user’ refers to clients, patients, medical teams or healthcare administrators – as I believe that the user-experience is the key driver of successful innovation today.   

Therefore, my advice to anyone seeking to innovate would be to focus on solving very down-to-earth organizational problems – resource optimisation – using available technology. For example, medtech innovation could start on developing products and services to simply and efficiently robotize very simple tasks normally performed by medical teams.   

MTE What makes your technology unique? 

SJ Our technology is based on Pepper, a product of SoftBank Robotics, in partnership with a reputable service provider. 

Our added value lies more in choosing to create business applications that have immediate user benefits, based on our extensive experience in the field. I believe that successful product adoption comes from ‘transparency’. Our product is totally plug and play with very easy settings and usable without specific training or opening a user manual, lifting one of the first barriers to product adoption. Of course, we have also worked on our business model and price structure.  In the coming year, we plan to continue our development with a B-to-C version of our Medi’Pep application, an autonomous robot able to communicate with dependent seniors.  

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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