I spent last week studying design and innovation at the Stockholm School of Economics during a Global Business Experience at Darden. We spoke to executives from clean-energy firms, design consulting firms, home goods producers and professors from SSE; each discussed how important it was to push for design that created value and solved problems. After one particular compelling lecture, I asked, "why does it seem that in industries where the functionality of the product is critical, innovation is so lagging?"
He told me that when the functionality of a device is critical, like for a medical device, high regulations can really constrict innovation. Lets face it an insulin pump, blood sugar meter or constant glucose monitor are all GREAT at doing EXACTLY what they are supposed to do, but really don't add a ton of value beyond that. At some moment each of us has desired that our devices make life a little bit easier, or function a bit better. But since the functionality of the device is so critical, these companies are forced to focus on making sure it operates perfectly and not worry too much about innovation.
I spoke with the lecturer after his presentation to ask "what someone can do to get around the FDA regulations to create a device with real value." He spoke of a movement where individuals with medical conditions have been forming conglomerates to create their own devices, develop their own innovations to push for design that adds real value to their lives. He then told me, developing a new device would "take 10 years," to which I responded, well I have this disease for life so I have the time.
Although I have my internship for the summer all locked up, the wheels are definitely turning as I think about how best to get a group of us together to approach Medtronic or one of the other pump manufactures with a true business plan that identifies what we really need in a CGMS, pump or blood sugar meter.