HIT Thought Leadership Highlight: Bobby Grajewski, Edison Nation Medical

Bobby Grajewski
Bobby Grajewski

Bobby Grajewski is president of Edison Nation Medical, a healthcare product and medical device incubator and online community for people that are passionate about healthcare innovation. Prior to joining Edison Nation Medical, Grajewski, a serial entrepreneur, co-founded two online companies (Heritage Handcrafted and eCollector) and spent five years in venture capital and private equity both in the middle market (J.H. Whitney Capital Partners & Kamylon Capital) and at larger LBO firms (Permira Advisers) investing in companies across numerous industries.

Grajewski holds a MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, a MPA from Harvard Kennedy School, and a BA from Harvard University.

Here he discusses Edison Nation Medical, its importance, who it serves and how it came to be.

What is ENM? How did it begin and who are your partners? Please provide a little about the history, present and future goals. 

Edison Nation Medical is a medical device incubator and online community for people passionate about making a difference in healthcare. We provide a clear pathway for anyone—physicians, nurses, technicians, entrepreneurs, university tech transfer officers, small companies, and even patients and caregivers—to submit their medical product innovations for in-depth review and potential commercialization. Our business model is based on trust—trust between a person with a great healthcare invention and a company that gives a thorough and expert read to determine the value of the innovation. If an innovation has value, we find it, unlock it and get it to market in order to improve care, lower cost and increase access for the patient.

Edison Nation Medical was founded in 2012 as part of a collaboration between the prolific consumer product developer Edison Nation, and Carolinas HealthCare System, one of the nation’s leading public healthcare systems. Both valued innovation in healthcare, and desired to create a model whereby open innovation in healthcare could exist, outside the traditional pathways, that would foster new ideas to improve care and increase efficiencies in the healthcare ecosystem.

Edison Nation Medical’s goal is to become the leader in healthcare innovation. We desire to be the pathway people trust to help bring their innovative and impactful healthcare ideas to market.  We also desire to be the online portal people turn too for information on healthcare innovation and inspiration.

How do you best serve the healthcare market and why does what you do benefit the sector?

Edison Nation Medical breaks down the traditional barriers that inhibit the individual inventor, entrepreneur, university tech transfer office, and small company from getting their innovative healthcare idea into the marketplace. These challenges include capital needs, management expertise, time and access to the healthcare supply chain. When people submit innovations to us, we determine if those innovations have value. If they do, we find it, unlock it and get it to market. We then split any royalties that we receive for that product with that inventor 50/50. So it is a very fair, easy to understand and transparent process.

Ultimately, Edison Nation Medical takes the risk out of the equation for inventors and increases the types and number of products that would traditionally make it to market. By doing so, we provide a pathway for innovation that improves care and increases efficiencies.

Tell me about your space. Are there competitors? How do you set yourself apart?

There are other organizations that work to identify new product solutions from outside their own four walls. Some may be healthcare focused, general consumer focused or both.

We have seen some models based on “crowdsourcing,” which is the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people – especially from an online community – rather than from traditional employees or suppliers. Our model, on the other hand, is based on “open innovation,” a paradigm that assumes that firms can and should use external ideas, as well as internal ideas and paths to market. The central idea behind open innovation is that, in a world of widely distributed knowledge, companies cannot afford to rely entirely on their own research, but should instead buy or license inventions from other companies. Under our open innovation model, we protect the confidentiality of an inventor’s idea along with any intellectual property that may be assigned to that idea. This makes our model unique and ultimately ensures the greatest chance for an innovations success.

In addition, some models are based around a contest in which there are winners who receive a predetermined prize upon being selected. We conduct innovation searches in which inventors may submit ideas for commercialization consideration. Inventors whose ideas are successfully licensed receive 50 percent of the licensing royalties. There are no limits on the number of ideas that can and will be commercialized from an Edison Nation Medical innovation search.

How big is the ENM community and who is included in it?

We have a large community that continues to grow. We started Edison Nation Medical by making it available first to Carolinas HealthCare System’s 60,000+ employees and soon thereafter opened the community to anyone, both inside and outside healthcare. Today, you will find Edison Nation Medical members who come from around the globe and run the gamut from patients who have experienced a problem that they want to solve to healthcare professionals who see the everyday challenges faced in their own facilities to the everyday inventor who feels inspired to fill a gap that exists in the healthcare delivery system. In addition, you will find numerous University Tech Transfer offices and early stage companies as members of Edison Nation Medical; all who see the value that Edison Nation Medical brings in enabling them to get their products vetted and into the marketplace. This is the beauty of Edison Nation Medical: anyone may submit a medical invention idea for consideration.

How long does it take for ENM to bring a product to market?

The gestation period for medical invention ideas is typically six to 12 months. Once ideas are submitted to our online portal, internal teams evaluate them from an intellectual property, medical efficacy, and market opportunity to identify the ones with the most potential. Those that pass these milestones proceed to our business development teams and our commercialization efforts are initiated.

What are some of your successful launches? Which products/brands are you responsible for bringing to the market?

In healthcare innovation, success is determined by more than financial metrics. The real benefit is both financial and social. Saving lives, preserving patient dignity and improving quality of life can all be measured in some respect in the work we do. We have three goals in conducting our innovation searches for ideas: improve care, lower cost and increase access.

We partner with manufacturing companies, as well as professional, patient-focused organizations to help them find innovative solutions to problems in their space. For example, we are currently working with a Masimo, a global leader in noninvasive patient monitoring technologies, to find new applications to expand their existing patient monitoring and connectivity platform. We also have a concurrent search with a leading manufacturer of advanced foam sleep products to find new therapeutic support surface ideas to improve and protect patient well-being while in a healthcare facility or home care environment.

Our goal with these, and any other, searches is to find at least one great idea that meets our objectives of improving care, lowering cost and increasing access. Success is based on the quality of submissions as opposed to the quantity of submissions.

Our most recent product success story is the GoGown, a revolutionary disposable isolation gown designed by healthcare entrepreneur and licensed nurse Ginny Porowski built to reduce the risk of hospital-acquired infections.

The GoGown is a perfect example of how Edison Nation Medical helps people get their great medical ideas into the marketplace. There was no disputing that Ginny had a novel concept that filled an unmet need, but she could not gain the necessary access into the medical world on her own, which is what brought her to us. After further improving upon Ginny’s initial concept, Edison Nation Medical through our deep industry relationships and partnership with Carolinas HealthCare System was able to identify the best partner, in Medline Industries, to bring this product to market.

A success story can come from anyone who comes to us at any stage of the process. That is the beauty of Edison Nation Medical.

How does one invest in these ventures?

It would be best to contact Robert.Grajewski@EdisonNationMedical.com

Tell me about your inventors. What does the inventor receive upon a successful commercialization? What is the process like for them?

Anyone may submit a medical invention idea to Edison Nation Medical. We provide a clear pathway for anyone—physicians, nurses, technicians, entrepreneurs, university tech transfer officers, small companies, and even patients and caregivers—to submit their product idea for in-depth review and potential commercialization. If an idea has value, we find it, unlock it and get it to market in order to improve care, lower cost and increase access for the patient.

There is a $25 idea submission fee, which is all a potential inventor ever has to pay. Edison Nation Medical absorbs any further product development and licensing costs to bring ideas with the most potential to life.

Edison Nation Medical splits licensing royalties 50/50 with successful inventors.

Who are ENM’s most important “customers”?

There are many people involved in bringing a great medical invention to life, including the inventor, our medical expert idea reviewers, our marketing team, the medical device manufacturers who license and distribute the new products, and the health centers who purchase the ultimate invention—just to name a few. Each of these people and partners are vital to Edison Nation Medical’s success.

However, we do have two equally important customers – patients and inventors.

Regarding our inventors, without a constant stream of great ideas flowing into our system, it doesn’t matter how great our manufacturing partnerships are or how talented our product evaluation team is or how inspiring our marketing may be. Without the inventor’s ideas, we have absolutely no way of generating the revenue necessary to keep our business humming. Without our inventors, our business ceases to exist.

Regarding patients, they are the reason we do what we do every day. Our mission is to improve care, lower cost and increase access for one audience – patients.      

Who is the target audience?

We have several target audiences:

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