Nano Science and Technology Institute

Corporate Spotlight Interview: Medtronic

By: Jennifer Rocha

TechConnect speaks to Michael Hill, Vice President of R&D at Medtronic, about the importance of innovation and their participation at this month's TechConnect-National Innovation Summit in DC.

  Medtronic Michael Hill

What are technology/solution areas that you have a primary interest in?

In addition to the technologies that improve therapy and outcomes of patients with Heart Failure, Atrial Fibrillation, Tachyarrhythmia, Bradycardia, Syncope, Heart Valve Dysfunction, and Coronary Artery Disease, we are interested in technologies to apply to the comorbidities of cardiac patients (e.g., sleep apnea; COPD, hypertension, etc.),  as well as technologies to optimize patients care pathways.  We are primarily interested in the following types of technology concepts and enabling technologies:

Technology Concepts:

  • Miniaturized electronic systems, e.g., injectable, nano
  • Novel treatment delivery systems, e.g., leadless stimulation devices; miniature LVADs; cardiac remodeling, etc.
  • Information systems: big data/predictive analytics/machine learning
  • Care pathways; call center optimization; EHR integration, etc.
  • Algorithm development;  signal processing and analytics
  • Bioengineered systems:  drug-device combos; cell and gene therapies, etc.

Enabling Technologies:

  • Power systems:  e.g., high energy density, miniaturized primary batteries;  rechargeable; solid state; capacitors (stored charge of < 40J)
  • Sensors technologies:  chronically implantable; wearable; environmental, etc.
  • Materials technologies:  e.g., stable for long-term implantable; antimicrobial; surface treatments, etc.
  • Low-power, secure communications: both between implanted devices (intrabody) and from implanted devices to outside systems

What level of commercial maturity do you typically look for in technology partnerships?

Our partnerships run the gamut from collaborative research and development to transitioning technologies to the marketplace.

While ideal to have early stage conceptual ideas that already have some background IP developed, we recognize that finding cutting edge technologies means sometimes finding them earlier in their technology development cycle.

We are positioned to support high-risk, high pay-off technology innovations that have the potential to solve tough problems for our customers in a radical and disruptive way.

Please describe your company’s Innovation model and how this model helps to find new innovations.

Innovation at Medtronic takes many forms: from free-flowing ideation to market- or customer-pulled development projects. Our technology group works very closely with our therapy business leaders and operations groups to ensure that we are targeting the most valuable opportunities and that we are in a position to maximize monetization of the new product or application. We are also exploring other open innovation processes to increase the breadth of new opportunities, while maintaining our business and commercial focus.

We work closely with universities, innovative corporations, and stay up to date on the latest scientific publications to actively build our entrepreneur and innovation network.  In working with universities, we educate ourselves on the future direction of scientific discovery. This is done by closely working with their technology transfer offices and leading researchers. Partnerships with corporations are formed to understand their technology needs of tomorrow, expand our diligence process, explore spinning out new technologies, and to work with our portfolio of transformative companies. These relationships are useful in both finding new investments and helping our existing portfolio succeed by offering introductions.

We look at early stage technologies and provide non-dilutive funding to bring these technologies to proof of concept and prototyping.  We also connect with small businesses to identify the brightest and best start-ups and technologies across the globe.

Why work with TechConnect and the National Innovation Summit as a technology prospector?  Who are you looking to meet with?

We are always looking to expand our innovation network, learn about the new direction of technology innovation, and meet with experienced entrepreneurs.

TechConnect and the National Innovation Summit, draws upon a large community of technology providers, entrepreneurs and research institutions, as well as customers and end-users of these technologies.  As the summit cuts across different industries and disciplines such as biotech, nanotech, energy etc., this creates opportunities to identify and develop connections, that are otherwise difficult to identify and establish, in one location over a short period of time.

What did you like most about the 2015 conferences?

We greatly enjoyed meeting entrepreneurs and the organizations that foster entrepreneurship.  Deep conversations with corporate partners on the future of innovation and upcoming technology demands were also a highlight.


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