Innokas Medical, which offers design and development, contract manufacturing as well as quality and regulatory services for medical device OEMs, is one great example of a company that has taken advantage of EU funding opportunities together with its customers. The international consortium that Innokas took part in has brought valuable know-how and helped the company to enter international markets.
Innokas Medical has participated in the Fast Track to Innovation (FTI) -project included in the European Horizon 2020 funding program. FTI is intended to smaller consortium projects, and it aims to accelerate the rapid entry of high-level innovations into international markets. FTI is still relatively underutilized financing model in Finland. However, for Innokas Medical, this financing model and participation in an international consortium is natural part of their operative model, as the company acts as a design and product development as well as contract manufacturing partner for its customers. In addition, Innokas offers a wide range of quality and regulatory services.
“We’ve took part in various consortiums, usually led by our customers", tells Antti Virtanen, Head of Sales at Innokas Medical.
“In the Fast Track to Innovation -project launched in 2016, we developed a home treatment solution for Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) together with our Norwegian customer. The product received CE mark in 2018 and today both production and sales have started. Therefore, the project has been successfully completed”, he continues.
The co-creation project brought valuable know-how for Innokas and helped the company to establish new international networks.
“We were able to develop our expertise and know-how even further in managing this kind of projects, which we see very valuable for us. Additionally, it helped us to enter the Norwegian market through the visibility it brought us. Our Norwegian client has also given us a permission to use this project as a public reference, which in our opinion tells us about the successful cooperation”, Virtanen discusses and continues:
“We see it very valuable that through the EU-funded consortiums like this, we’re able to co-create new kinds of innovations with our customers and other cooperation partners to improve peoples’ lives all over the world.”
Applying funding requires effort and skills
Usually, the product development cycle of a medical device is long. Typically it might last even up to 1 to 3 years, requiring long-term financing. On the public side, it can be nationally applied from, e.g., Business Finland, and internationally through, e.g., Horizon 2020 and Eureka programs.
“We see the awareness towards the jungle of rules and regulations, which are mandatory in the medical field, has increased significantly. In addition, it seems that companies have even better understanding on the fact that bringing an innovation to the market requires long-term financing. Before any product brings cashflow for companies, external financing is needed to secure a relatively long transition period from idea to final product”, Virtanen ponders.
However, to apply and receive any funding requires effort and skills.
"During the past six months we’ve received several cooperation proposals for financial applications. However, only few of all Horizon applications are accepted and funded; behind any good application there must be a knowledgeable and skilled team that can carry out the project by itself. According to our experience, this will significantly improve the chances to get the application accepted and funded”, he tells.
Cooperation contributes to the internationalization and growth of businesses, but also provides an opportunity to be at the forefront of changes in the industry.
”Co-creation projects like this help both us and our customers to develop and carry out larger product development projects, which improves the patient and health care globally”, Virtanen discusses.
Innokas Medical is also involved in facilitating the changes in the industry by actively participating in international regulatory work.
“Healthcare technology is increasingly attracting new players from outside the industry, like from software side. These companies need an understanding of the requirements of the medical device industry in order to gain market acceptance for their products. We know the regulatory environment and we can implement the requirements in practice. We can also help our customers to develop and manufacture products as specified, helping them to succeed in entering markets with their innovations”, he concludes.
For more information about Fast Track to Innovation -funding:
Heini Günther, Business Finland, email@example.com / 040 502 0042
For more information about Innokas Medical:
Antti Virtanen, Head of Sales, firstname.lastname@example.org