Medtronic teases collaboration platform for stroke innovation


For nearly a year, Medtronic has been quietly building a neurovascular collaboration platform dedicated to accelerating stroke innovation outside of the company’s walls.

Medtronic’s neurovascular co-lab platform is expected to launch later this month, on World Stroke Day. Dan Volz, president of Medtronic’s neurovascular business, introduced the new platform this week at DeviceTalks West in Santa Clara, California. Volz also spoke MD+DI about the new venture earlier this week.

According to Volz, the new platform aims to help transform ideas and technology into new stroke therapies by providing physicians and entrepreneurs with insight, support and scalability.

“We haven’t even scratched the surface of what we can do in space and in the brain as a whole, but at the same time there’s also this downward pressure on innovation,” Volz said MD+DI.

Macroeconomic challenges such as inflation and supply chain disruptions combined with market consolidation and new regulatory requirements for medical devices in Europe are making innovation difficult, especially for start-ups.

“It’s just not the right time for innovation to stall in the stroke space,” Voltz said.

He said Medtronic is already receiving a fair number of requests from stroke healthcare entrepreneurs who are at different stages of the innovation cycle and need help making their idea a reality.

“[We] wanted to build a process where we can move through it at the speed of innovation…to ensure innovation in the stroke field can see the light of day,” Voltz said.

How Medtronic’s Neurovascular Co-Lab Platform Works

Participating entrepreneurs choose from one of four collaboration paths, depending on where their device is in the innovation cycle.

The Brainstorm track is for innovators with a napkin sketch idea who need help developing that idea into a prototype. In this track, participants will benefit from Medtronic’s skills and expertise in product development and rapid prototyping.

The second track is aimed at companies in the early stages who want to develop their product from the prototype to the first clinical studies on humans. In this track, participants can receive support in the form of sponsored development, their own space and team, and mentoring.

The investment path is for companies that need financing. Companies participating in this track may benefit from an introduction to Medtronic Ventures, the company’s investment vehicle.

The acceleration path for a commercialization-ready technology. Participants in this track may benefit from Medtronic networking opportunities, technology showcase opportunities, or even an immersion program.

“We can take you on an immersion where you come and spend a couple of weeks with us and we kind of collect around that concept that you have to create a commercial plan,” Voltz said.

Medtronic’s history in stroke

Medtronic has been the market leader since 2015, when it inherited the Solitaire FR clot removal device through its acquisition of Covidien. So it makes sense for the Dublin, Ireland-based company to launch a collaborative innovation platform in this young, high-stakes market, which is seeing double-digit growth every year.

Image courtesy of Emily Michot / Tribune Content Agency / Alamy Stock Photo
In the above photo, taken in September 2015, Dileep R. Yavagal, MD, senior interventional neurologist at the University of Miami, demonstrates how to use a Medtronic Solitaire to grasp a clot in a stroke victim’s blocked cerebral artery. Isabel Vinueza.

Before the salvage of devices, the standard of care for stroke was clot-dissolving drugs. However, with a retrieval device, doctors can insert the device through the groin, navigate it through the vasculature to the brain, then grasp the clot and pull it out.

With the launch of the Medtronic Neurovascular Co-Lab Platform, the company recognizes that it has both the resources and expertise to incubate and accelerate new stroke technology ideas from concept to commercialization.


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