Devices & Diagnostics

A volunteer group out of the University of Minnesota is looking to increase pediatric medical device innovation

The Pediatric Device Innovation Consortium is looking to give unlikely but important pediatric medical device ideas an actual chance at production. Getting ideas from parents is key.

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Venture investors don’t usually jump into early-stage medical device innovation without a clear projection of high profit targets. This can stifle production of some well-needed products that just don’t have the potential to be major money-makers. But when it comes to pediatric medical devices, parents and caretakers sometimes have the best ideas, even if they are small scale.

For this reason, pediatric critical care physician Dr. Gwenyth Fischer in 2011 founded a volunteer group that uses the resources of the University of Minnesota and the local medical-device industry to get perhaps what would be considered mildly profitable devices on the ­market. The group is called the Pediatric Device Innovation Consortium (PDIC), and they are using traditional methods like grants and close collaboration with inventors to get new devices out there.

In 2016, the group is reportedly looking to provide access to a pediatric device incubator along with a public outreach program. The goal is to get ideas from parents instead of just engineers and doctors and to hopefully overcome some regulatory and financial barriers.

The university’s Office of Discovery and Translation will provide about $250,000 in 2016 to fund PDIC programs, Star Tribune reported.

“What we’d like to do is take products as far as possible with university help, so that when they exit the university system into industry, they are much more likely to succeed,” Fischer said. “Essentially, the more hurdles we can take on for industry, the more likely they are to take that product and run with it.”

The consortium has no paid staff but has a 14-member board of directors that includes physicians, executives, academics and lawyers who can provide feedback to inventors for free.

So far six projects have been backed by the consortium, including a project to develop human-tissue heart valves that can grow inside a child’s body and a machine being tested in Uganda that can be built from locally available materials to treat breathing problems in preterm infants.

Photo: Flickr user US Department of Education