Lab Team Researches and Builds Path to Bring LiveBand to Market
By Innovation Lab
Innovation isn’t always about something never thought of before. Meaningful innovation can be a reimagining of how a service, capability or program is delivered to those who need or could benefit from it. And that’s exactly what our Innovation Lab team saw in an idea submitted by an orthopedic surgeon whose practice includes sports medicine.
Not only did Dr. Eric Bowman come to us with a vision for a wearable and affordable Blood Flow Restriction device, but, in essence, he found a better way to make an effective therapy more accessible. This product, dubbed LiveBand and introduced in our prior blog post, might find a home start in a growing number of physical therapy clinics and extend to use by fitness trainers and perhaps – one day – even individual users. Not only did Bowman bring a fresh idea to the Lab, but he arrived with clinical expertise and all-star credentials within the specialty where LiveBand could deliver its greatest value.
“In this project, we have a number of really positive aspects that together make this a strong prospect for us. Dr. Bowman is very engaged, and he’s a key opinion leader in his field working at the highest level/with the highest training,” said Wendy Ross, the Lab’s Executive Director for IP and Market Strategy. “He’s got a great idea, and we have the engineering team that can capitalize on that foundation and make the LiveBand a reality. We’re developing and implementing the technology to make it portable and easier to use.”
Filling Unmet Need and Changing Lives
But the idea didn’t just appear from thin air. First came extensive research by the Lab team to analyze whether the product would fill an unmet need, with a unique focus on improving healthcare and lives.
“I build a business case around the idea. I look at what’s the market potential for the device. What’s the competition? What products are already out there? And we look at what the need is,” said Marsha McKenna, clinical and market intelligence analyst. “If we create something, is there an opportunity – or is the market too crowded?”
Building on Bowman’s guidance on the limitations of professional BFR systems, the Lab assessed the market appetite for a lower-cost, portable option – finding that LiveBand could have great opportunities to serve rehabilitation centers, fitness centers and even individual fitness enthusiasts/buffs. In every case, the challenge is to identify the broadest potential without excluding relevant market segments.
“We look at what would be the bar for success in a few different ways. It’s not just revenue potential,” Ross said. However, “the more products we sell, the more potential we have for positively impacting the lives of people who could use a product – and that’s critically important to us. So is engaging innovators in the process. Even if they don’t get this far in our process, maybe we can inspire them to come back with another idea that’s even better than the first one.”
Bringing a Great Idea to Life
(LiveBand is in the product development stage on the path to commercialization)
Currently, LiveBand is in the Lab’s Product Development stage, where the team has been refining prototypes and testing its clinical benefits, not to mention the user experience. Although Bowman came with a clear definition of what he wanted LiveBand to deliver, he didn’t bring specifications on how it needed to be built. That gave the engineers and product designers in our studio the freedom to think and work collaboratively on how to transform this idea into a working product.
“It’s exciting to speak with an inventor who is so passionate about what they do,” said Norman Ong, Technology Commercialization Executive. “Sometimes you get a gut feeling about certain things, but, at the end of the day, you still need the data to back up that idea. I think it was pretty clear that there was a lot of potential for LiveBand. There are very few portable devices, and the pricing of much of the competition is extremely high, meaning widespread adoption is low.”
During regular videoconferences with Bowman, the Product Development team collected appropriate protocols to establish for the LiveBand’s operation, including designated occlusion levels – the percent of blood flow restriction – and background on how current-state models work. That crucial input ensures the product will do what it needs to do, in the environment in which it will be used.
The first-generation prototype has completed clinical evaluation in several sites. With feedback received from both providers and patients, our engineers identified improvements to incorporate into the next iteration, now in development. Evaluation studies with the second-generation prototype should get under way in March.
Simultaneously, the Lab is analyzing the innovator’s intellectual property. Bowman initially hadn’t filed any patent applications, so the Lab conducted additional research to validate key novelties to protect by patent for the LiveBand.
Ultimately, the Lab aims to license the LiveBand to a commercial partner by late 2021. This is a critical part of the Lab’s mission: to thread the needle between a great idea and a partner within its innovation ecosystem that can support its final execution – whether as a product, service, technology or something else still to be imagined – successfully and profitably in the marketplace. Even how that idea is offered could vary. For some, it’s a licensing route. For others, it’s a partnership that could lead to manufacturing a product.
“When you have someone, like Dr. Bowman, who has a well-thought-out idea, who is a clinical and subject matter expert, and wants to be engaged in the process – the entire experience runs smoothly,” noted Ross, citing Bowman’s participation in Lab’s Online Technology Showcase to present LiveBand to potential partners. “It makes it that much easier to be successful.”
If you missed our early discussion of Dr. Bowman’s innovation, check out the first part of this blog, featuring an interview on how he approached the idea of the LiveBand. The Lab is dedicated to improving healthcare, and rehabilitation and healthy living is an important part of that mission. Reach out to our team to discuss your ideas and our process for innovation – and let’s work together to help people live their best lives.