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Cleveland Clinic teams with Parker Hannifin to create new medical device technology.

Parker Hannifin Corp. and the Cleveland Clinic quietly have been working to develop dozens of new medical devices over the past several years, and now two of those products are about to hit the market.

About a dozen more devices are close behind, according to Sam Kiderman, director of new ventures for Cleveland Clinic Innovations, the business development arm of the hospital system. "Many, many more technologies are in the pipeline," he told Crain's Cleveland Business.

Now Cleveland Clinic Innovations is talking to other local corporations about forming similar partnerships, according to Kiderman.

He wouldn't identify them but noted that it would make sense for the clinic--which has commercialized a long list of medical technologies since the turn of the century--to work with a company that specializes in chemistry and material science. That knowledge could complement Parker Hannifin's expertise, which relates to industrial technology and manufacturing.

"We're going to have more collaborators," Kiderman said, noting that some products might be developed by "Cleveland Clinic, Parker Hannifin and somebody else."

For its part, Parker Hannifin has been aiming to develop more medical products since the Mayfield Heights, Ohio-based company introduced its "Winovation" program in 2005. One of the goals of that initiative was to attract product ideas from people not involved in research and development as well as those not employed by Parker Hannifin.

The Cleveland Clinic and Parker Hannifin have been working behind the scenes to develop various kinds of new medical devices. The two that are ready to make their debut are:

* The Navis Torquer: This product is essentially a handle that surgeons hold as they move guidewires through the body of a patient (a procedure often used on patients who need stents or some other cardiac intervention). However, most torquers have to be fed onto the end of the guidewire. The Navis Torquer has a slot down the middle; thus, it can be attached or removed at any point along the wire. The device has a polycarbonate cylindrical body and an acetal cap.

* Flexible endoscopic sheath: This sheath is designed to make sure the endoscope inside remains sterile. The sheath houses the endoscope, a tube equipped with a camera that lets the doctor see inside a patient's body, in a vacuum. And the sheath is designed in such a way that the surgeon will know if the vacuum is compromised--which means the sterility of the endoscope has been compromised. The sheath also contains a clear material on one end intended to help the endoscope produce better images.

The relationship between both organizations began in 2007, when executives from Parker Hannifin's Parflex hose and tubing division in Ravenna, Ohio, reached out to Cleveland Clinic Innovations. Soon, officials from both organizations were meeting at least once a month to brainstorm ideas for new products and figure out how to commercialize them.

In addition, Parker Hannifin employees started sitting in on surgeries. A group of more than 20 employees visited the Clinic regularly over the course of four months, often donning scrubs at 6 a.m. and sticking around all day. They sometimes spent hours talking to surgeons after they had finished their procedures.

All that brainstorming produced more than 100 ideas. And new ones are still being created, because the group meets regularly.

"After each one of these meetings or presentations, we have dozens and dozens of ideas," Kiderman noted to Crain's.

When Cleveland Clinic doctors come up with ideas for new devices, they often need help turning those ideas into products. That role traditionally has been filled by engineers who work for the Cleveland Clinic's Medical Device Solutions group.

But engineers from Parker Hannifin bring a different perspective, according to Pete Buca, vice president of innovation and technology within the fluid connectors group at Parker Hannifin. They've spent years developing technologies designed to solve industrial problems. And sometimes those concepts can be used to develop better medical devices. "We actually had solved these problems before, in industrial settings," Buca said.

The partnership also solves a broader problem that innovative physicians have always faced. Doctors often are the ones who come up with ideas for new medical devices, but they sometimes are too busy to pursue those ideas. Engineers from Parker Hannifin can help them out, according to Dale Ashby, vice president of technology and innovation in the company's engineered materials group.

"They have an idea, but they can't go home and work on it because they have to do another surgery," he said.

If the clinic and Parker Hannifin develop a product together, both organizations stand to benefit. In many cases, both organizations would take ownership of the technology. Sometimes Parker Hannifin would end up manufacturing the products.

For instance, the company helped the Cleveland Clinic develop a new sheath designed to protect endoscopes--long tubes that often are equipped with cameras that let doctors see inside a patient's body. Parker Hannifin is slated to manufacture the sheath at one of its existing plants and sell it to a medical device company, starting this fall, Ashby said. The clinic would receive royalties from any sales.

Parker Hannifin also plans to manufacture the Navis Torquer. The device has been tested at 100 hospitals in Ohio. Parker Hannifin helped refine early prototypes of the Navis Torquer that were created by clinic doctors and a company called Windcrest LLC, which still owns a portion of the technology.
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Title Annotation:Top of the News
Publication:Medical Product Outsourcing
Date:Oct 1, 2014
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