Boston Children’s Hospital and the Boston Pediatric Device Consortium (BPDC) are looking for entrepreneurs with ideas to develop new pediatric medical devices, an area that is often overlooked by inventors.
The two organizations, along with seven partners, are launching a Boston Pediatric Device Strategic Partner Challenge, which is now open to interested applicants until Oct. 13. Each challenge winner will receive up to $50,000 funding and other mentorship opportunities. The challenge will award up to $250,000 in grants.
While applicants can submit ideas at different development stages, the challenge is looking for technologies that focus on five areas: cardiovascular/endovascular, asthma, obesity, sepsis and general pediatrics.
Funded by the Food and Drug Administration, the challenge aims to find promising pediatric medical devices from applicants around the country, then provide them with the necessary help to develop their ideas, said Pedro J. del Nido, the director at BPDC and chief of cardiac surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital.
One key element to the value of pediatric medical devices is longevity, Nido said. Developing a medical device that may improve the health of children can potentially change the next 70 years of someone’s life.
However, Nido added, many innovations never get the chance to move to clinical stage because of different obstacles that entrepreneurs encounter along the way.
“There are individuals who have good ideas, they know what the problems are, and they have a good solution,” Nido said at the challenge’s launching event Tuesday. “But there are too many reasons for small device companies to fail. Without that extra boost, they are likely not going to make it.”
To provide the “extra boost,” Boston Children’s Hospital and BPDC invited seven companies, including Boston Scientific, CryoLife, Edwards Lifesciences, Health Advances, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Smithwise and Ximedica, to offer support and mentorship to the winners.
At the launching event, representatives from each company elaborated on what they especially value in the applications and what they can bring to the table.
Stefanie Dhanda, a senior director of consumer scientific innovation at Johnson & Johnson Innovation, said the company is looking for innovations that “allow kids to be kids.”
“The root of J&J are in baby products … so that is really our passion,” Dhanda said. “We want healthy happy babies and happy healthy parents. And we are looking for devices that really allow
children to be kids outside of the hospital setting – when they are at the playground, or go swimming.”
Haven Tyler, the director of strategic partnerships at Smithwise, a medical device design and manufacture company, said she is keeping an open mind.
“We find the best inventors originated from a problem, a personal or professional problem, from which the inventor finds solutions to solve those problems,” Tyler said. “Because we are on the hardware side of things, the best approach is to keep an open mind and see what is out there.”
Weihua Li recently graduated from Boston University with a dual degree in journalism and political science. Before joining MedTech Boston as an editorial intern, she edited the school’s independent newspaper, The Daily Free Press, and interned at WAMU and WBUR. When she is not reporting, you can find her at Boston’s newest bubble tea shop, looking for the best boba in town.
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