KMC Systems Plays a Leading Partnership Role in Open Innovation

Sharing ideas and resources by collaborating in “open collaboration” (OI) with trustworthy, value-added partners is increasingly becoming a necessary requirement to stay competitive, address rising healthcare costs and meet market demand for new state-of-the-art medical devices.   

KMC Systems, with a 30-year history of partnering as a valued-added contract designer and manufacturer, understands well the increased importance of OI within the med tech industry, as explained in a recent interview.  Bob Evans, business development/marketing manager for KMC, shared his thoughts in the superb article "Opening the Door to Innovation" written by Michael Barbella, managing editor, in the January/February 2013 issue of MPO (Medical Product Outsourcing) Magazine.

Evans noted that the medical device companies who are the most successful understand the benefits of leveraging the expertise of others and balance all the sources of innovation. Elaborating, Evans said, “The best new product development and manufacturing programs are with companies that understand their core competencies well and are willing to seek assistance from competent, experienced outsourced partners for areas outside their expertise.”

KMC operates as a committed value-driven partner by helping customers develop diagnostic instruments through a combination of internal R&D, collaboration and off-the-shelf (OTS) purchasing.

KMC also adds values by:

  • Automating the assay process which was created in a customer’s own R&D laboratory, by clearly defining functional interface requirements between the disposable and the instrument.

  • Evaluating and managing the potential new product’s features, functions and risk through simulation modeling once a design is agreed upon.

  • Utilizing off-the-shelf (OTS) products which are proven and verified to help customers save money in the long run.  To accelerate the development process, KMC developed its own family of scalable, flexible diagnostic instrument modules with different footprints and configurations. To learn more read: Medical device design and manufacturing partner supports IVD trends .  The modules feature all the major elements needed to build a complete platform: Positioning/motion control/robots, drive and control electronics, control/data processing/graphical user interface software, liquid handling, and precision fluidic control and dispense.

“The real value of utilizing KMC’s off-the-shelf solutions is that these designs are proven and verified, not only reducing custom development costs but also the subsequent module test and integration costs, which shortens the development schedule,” Evans told MPO Magazine. “We have seen this leveraging of expertise and various sources of innovation for a product development program to be very successful. So indeed, innovation should encompass all three sources - in-house, collaborative partner, and purchased [research].”     

Additionally, KMC’s lean manufacturing processes contribute to the company’s role as an OI partner.  By partnering with key suppliers, KMC creates several “lean” materials benefits, passing on volume-purchased savings on parts used in minimal quantities.  Customers also benefit from a shortened product development cycle with KMC’S “spare parts” program, which allows the use of the FIFO (first in, first out) manufacturing process.  To learn more, read:  Lean manufacturing brings advantages

KMC helps ensure successful OI partnerships, and has an impressive track record of returning customers to prove it, which they demonstrate through honesty, commitment and communication as explained in KMC's communication process.


Historical Overview of Open Innovation

Barbella, MPO’s Managing Editor, explained OI this way:

 “Open innovation refers to the formal discipline and practice of engaging outside help to problem-solve and advance technology. Open innovation (OI) is the antithesis of the traditional research and development (R&D) approach that relies mainly on internal resources/knowledge to drive innovation.”

Barbella elaborates in his article, noting “Open innovation goes beyond traditional outsourcing by arming the company with resources that are available outside its own laboratory.”  However, he is careful to point out that OI cannot completely replace outsourcing.

      The need for more OI will continue to increase as the five-year outlook for the medtech     market is expected to grow 4.4% between 2011 and 2018, reaching $440 billion in 2018,       according to EvaluateMedTech™ World Preview 2018 report by EvaluatePharm ®, a leading source for life science sector analysis and consensus forecasts. This growth would position the industry at half the size of the prescription drug market.          

Rising health care costs and longer life spans are also necessitating the shift from the more private R&D development models of the past to open innovation.

Historically, one of the better known examples of OI in action was Charles Lindbergh’s 33.5 hour solo strip across the Atlantic in the custom-built monoplane, “Spirit of St. Louis,” Barbell shared in his article in MPO Magazine.  That flight resulted from Manhattan hotel magnate and Frenchman Raymond Orteig offering a $25,000 reward to the first allied aviator to fly non-stop between New York City and Paris, France.  Prior to the unknown Lindbergh successfully accomplishing the feat, several famous astronauts failed at their attempts to cross the Atlantic.

Within the medtech industry, Barbella explained that OI resulted in a number of technological advances, such as laser surgery, which evolved from the existence of unwanted tattoos; the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), which started off as a chemical and physical analysis tool, and numerous surgical tools that came from carpenters saws, drills and screws.

More recent examples of open medtech innovation cited in the MPO article include:

  • the bone glue technology designed to replace screws in reconstructive surgery which was developed based on research of the underwater adhesive manufactured by mussels.

  • next-generation hypodermic needles to more easily penetrate the skin, modeled after North American porcupine quills from researchers at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard Medical Schools.

KMC’s extensive role

To catch a quick glimpse of more of KMC’s expertise in OI, check out The Importance of Medical Device, OEM and CM Relationship. In this YouTube video, Ron Jellison, KMC’s vice president of business development, shares his thoughts on the major types of value creation that outsourcers bring to the relationship in a panel discussion at the Medical Product Outsourcing Symposium.


To learn more about KMC's capabilities download our brochure.


Topics: KMC360, KMC Systems, collaborative innovation, medical device design and manufacturing