MassGeneral Hospital for Children News

In an era when collaborations between industry and academia are more prized than ever, the traditional model of academic research is evolving. A new model—one that matches critical needs in industry with crosscutting solutions from basic and translational research—is emerging throughout the academic community.

New Approaches to Enhancing Innovation

29/Apr/2014

Partners HealthCare, with its exceptional breadth of creative researchers, scientific invention, and clinical excellence, is leading the nation in redefining this model through initiatives led by Departments and individual investigators, such as the new MGH Translational Research Center and the newly launched Research Institute.

Partners Innovation and its team of 75 work to integrate the academic, industry, and venture communities, and are also implementing a new approach. The Innovation team works directly with innovators through every element of the Partners HealthCare system to advance commercial capabilities and to achieve market applications for the hundreds of unique scientific, technological and organizational assets to advance patient care. The scale and reach of Partners hospitals place the system at the top of the worldwide medical innovation community. The legacy of discovery and clinical application of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, as well as McLean Hospital and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital has long established the standard of care for contemporary medicine.

Innovation is implementing a new organizational model—Market Sectors—as a means to enhance the commercial applications of research findings, expand the innovative capabilities of laboratories, and establish high-potential business collaborations for Partners institutions. 

New Initiative: Market Sectors

Earlier this year, Partners launched the first of nine Market Sectors—cross-functional teams within Innovation that each focus on a major industrial segment.   The Market Sectors were established after surveying other industries and their mechanisms to engage innovation and customers and through the advice of key members of the Innovation Advisory Board.  The model is designed to facilitate translation from the hospitals by improving the connection between industry needs and requirements, and hospital resources and capabilities. 

These teams are led by senior industry veterans with the experience to engage top-level industry executives and set strategy.  Simultaneously, the Market Sectors will bring industry knowledge learned through these relationships to ideate and collaborate with clinical and research leaders throughout Partners.  Through continuous engagement of industry decision makers and hospital Departmental leadership, the Market Sectors will set commercial strategy, enhance industry offerings, leverage department leadership and innovators, increase deal speed, and expand commercial capabilities, insights, access, and understanding.

The Radiology Market Sector was piloted during the first quarter of 2014; the additional sectors are expected to launch by year’s end. By partnering with the leadership of MGH Radiology new academic-industry relationships are already being pursued and strategic insights are being made. 

Coburn: Figure 1

Partners Innovation Market Sectors: The market sectors are based on core clinical and research strengths.
Innovation works to bring solutions to patients through its established approaches—industrial collaborations, start-ups, licensing, strategic alliances and intellectual property management–and functional units. More than 600 new invention disclosures each year have supported the launch of dozens of patient-benefiting products with more than 100 startup companies.

Collectively, the researchers affiliated with Partners form the nation’s largest academic research enterprise, amassing nearly $1.5 billion in competitive sponsored research awards. The stunning breadth of capabilities among Partners faculty, nurses and administrators represent a unique opportunity to create more benefits from research, help more patients, and demonstrate how strong alliances between academia and industry can accelerate the movement of discoveries into the marketplace.

Christopher Coburn, is VP of Innovation for Partners HealthCare

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