Designing R&D to Drive Personalized Care

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Medtech start-ups are not the only source of innovative technologies. Big company R&D teams are innovating too, as we learn from this roundtable discussion with Johnson & Johnson executives.

Innovation is the lifeblood of any technology-driven company, the source of short-term benefits that accrue to the company, such as increased revenue and profits and, perhaps more importantly, the longer-term reputational benefit of customers who come to view the company as the source of valuable tools advancing their interests as well. In the medical device industry, there is a widely held view that real innovation comes from small, venture-backed companies and their investors who provide the early funding, energy, and ideas that drive innovation, while big multinational companies mostly dominate the sales and marketing channels that bring that innovation to customers, fostered through external paths such as M&A and later-stage development.

Certainly, big company/small company collaboration and combination are at the heart of much innovation. But as the following discussion makes clear, there is much nuance to such a view and big-company R&D teams play a greater role in innovation than is often appreciated. Presented below is a lightly edited version of a panel discussion that took place at last year’s The MedTech Conference, the annual gathering of industry executives organized by the trade group AdvaMed. The R&D executives of four Johnson & Johnson MedTech business units—Ahmet Tezel, PhD, worldwide vice president of R&D, Ethicon; Steve White, worldwide vice president of R&D, DePuy Synthes; Xiao-Yu Song, MD, PhD, global head of R&D, Johnson & Johnson Vision; and Ahmed Abdelaal, MD, worldwide VP of R&D, Biosense Webster—talk about, among other things, how they view innovation, the relationship of R&D to the business development and minority investment arms of J&J, and the changes that new technology horizons are bringing to the R&D effort within the organization.


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