Open Innovation Leads to Medical Device Breakthroughs

Published Oct-17-11

Three innovative designs win top honors at an open innovation medical devices competition.

Diabetes Mine, United States

The Story:

Open Innovation Leads to Medical Device Breakthroughs A futuristic modular three-part wearable artificial pancreas, an innovative small, portable insulin-delivery device and an iPhone/iPod touch app to help diabetic teenage girls develop a glucose testing routine were the three Grand Prize winners in the annual Diabetes Mine open innovation competition.

New Tools Needed

Though life for millions of diabetics has been made a lot easier over the last 90 years there is a constant gripe that many of the tools are inconvenient, sometimes painful, cumbersome and not particularly user-friendly. So the contest, now in its fourth year encourages applicants to create new tools for improving life for those with diabetes.

It is run by, a leading informational and community website for people with diabetes and is underwritten by the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF).

Everyone is invited to take part in the open innovation competition including patients, medical students, doctors, startup companies, designers and engineers.

"Advances in technology have already been hugely beneficial in terms of changing the way people live with diabetes, and we’re very committed to further cultivating new tools to help them live healthier, longer, and less stressful lives,” said Jeffrey Brewer, President and CEO of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)

Tough Challenge Selecting the Winners

The 2011 open innovation contest garnered nearly 100 submissions including many more international entries than the previous competitions had received. Community voting on the website determined the top ten finalists and the final winners were selected by an expert panel of judges with expertise in medical technologies and diabetes care.

In making their decisions the judges had a number of competing concepts to balance. For example, “great design” versus “innovation” and whether awards should go to those ideas that have the potential to get to market soon. In addition should the panel honor a concept that has the potential to make a big splash in a small niche or one that has a broad appeal and will impact many more people? In the end the panel decided to add two honorable mentions to the awards list.

The three grand prize winners were;

• Pancreaum designed by Gil de Paula - the modular wearable artificial pancreas
• Blob designed by Luciana Urutty - portable insulin delivery advice
• DiaPETic designed by Emily E. Allen - currently designed for teenage girls, this iPhone/iPad app is among other things a glucose meter that “acknowledges the user as a human being”

Each winner was awarded $7000 plus expert help to take the designs forward and commercialize them.

Amongst the other awards handed out there were honorable mentions to Hanky Pancreas, a series of fashion accessories for women who wear insulin pumps, and Sanguine Diabetes Manager, a user-friendly data management program.

Open Innovation Contest Goals

The goal of the competition is not just to generate great ideas and new products but also to get the attention of the medical community. The hope is that healthcare specialists will look at the work of designers and either support and back their concepts or give them jobs where they will be able to pursue their ground breaking ideas furhter. The competition has also encouraged young designers to focus their expertise and creativity on diabetes and other health issues.

Since its founding this open innovation competition has been recognized by those in the diabetes community for its ability to throw up new talent and to advance the evolution of medical devices.

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