Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area have long enjoyed a reputation and foothold as the epicenter of innovation, home to many of the world’s most impressive startup launches and accounting for as much as 43% of venture capital funding.
But while entrepreneurs are continually focusing on what’s new and next, that can lead to the question of whether larger, global companies maintain the ability and interest to invent the “next big thing.”
There’s no doubt that large companies continue to, or would like to, place innovation as a priority. But their very success is what can make it harder for them to innovate, when compared to nimble startups that have less to lose.
This is where the Fogarty Institute’s corporate program comes into play. As a successful medtech incubator and accelerator, we provide corporate partners a unique view into the startup culture by hosting teams or team members and offering them the opportunity to be co-located with our entrepreneurs.
The Institute launched this program two years ago, when a few Japanese companies expressed interest in the Institute and learning more about its unique approach to innovation. Since then, we have hosted several teams from leading Japanese medical technology companies, including Terumo Medical, Mitsubishi and Olympus.
Thanks to positive feedback, we have now expanded the program to include companies and organizations from other markets that are interested in learning how to effectively take a product from concept to reality. The goal is to showcase the structure and culture that fosters innovation in these startups, all of which are focused on discovering new techniques and devices that will benefit patients.
An organization that has benefited from the program is the FDA, which has sent several of its reviewers to the Institute to gain a better understanding of the challenges startups face as they seek to bring innovative devices to market.
The corporate program is tailored to each company or organization’s needs. Some send delegates to learn more about innovation as a process, gaining knowledge they can then share with their teams.
Others appreciate the proximity to “startup culture,” from brainstorming sessions to mentors to exposure to other risk takers, as their team members focus on developing a new product they can bring to market, away from the daily pressures inherent in a larger organization. These teams share ideas and feel the “freedom to fail,” in an environment that supports and understands the ups and downs of the innovation process.
No matter what their ultimate goal, the participants all benefit from the close proximity to El Camino Hospital and its physicians, as well as access to business partners and world-class mentors who can provide background on each stage of the innovation ecosystem.
As they establish new connections and learn more about innovation, we all ultimately benefit when they take these tools back to their companies and put them to work with their own efforts to introduce new lifesaving devices.