Long-term experience and wide competence pool enable agile co-creation of next generation medical devices together with customers.
Innokas Medical has specialized in medical device design and development since 1994, when the company was founded in northern Finland, in Oulu city. Innokas’ design business has undergone a major facelift over the years alongside Innokas business growth; nowadays Innokas serves both Nordic and global MedTech players in two locations to bring their medical devices as well as regulated software solutions to international markets. Company’s full-scale service approach offers flexible design services throughout the product’s life cycle - from idea conceptualization through device development and project implementation to transfer to production.
“Even if contract-based design and development services have been part of our operations for over 27 years already, the most significant growth and development has taken place during the past +10 years”, tells Jenni Tuulos, working as Head of Design Studio at Innokas Medical.
“With the development actions executed throughout the years, we’ve targeted to take the changes and challenges of more complex operative environment of MedTech into account efficiently, at the same time ensuring the agile development cycle of new innovations. One major part of this development work was the launch of Innokas’ Design Studio brand and renewed operative models of it during our latest strategy work in 2018”, she continues.
Nowadays, Innokas’ Design Studio operates in two different locations; in addition to the company’s Espoo office, near the capital city Helsinki, Innokas’ Design Studio still operates where the company’s roots are – in the Oulu area, in Kempele. The basis for operation is to offer flexible and scalable outsourcing solutions to customers to co-create new innovations to the markets.
“According to our experiences, in co-creation all parties involved have a competitive edge and are able to add great value, as it brings together all the participants from end-users to experts to develop new products. Our highly skilled Design Studio team dedicated to medical technology, combined with our scalable and flexible service center model make us professional but flexible operator in the field. I strongly believe in that this has also had an impact on the growth achieved over the years”, Tuulos ponders.
There are altogether about 50 employees serving both Nordic and global MedTech players in Innokas’ Design Studio nowadays.
Modern and structured product development model brings agility
In addition to co-creation, Innokas’ Design Studio has strongly invested in agility; they see that more rapid product development is achievable in medical business despite the burdensome regulations and more complex business environment.
”Companies must meet the growing regulatory requirements before entering the targeted market areas with their products - to comply with the regulations is not an optional thing to do. Additionally, the requirements evolve all the time to ensure both safety and effectiveness of new technologies and solutions”, Tuulos tells.
“At the same time, there is a certain pressure for the companies operating in the field: to get their new innovations to the market as quickly as possible to keep up with the global competition. Thus, in addition to taking new, modern tools into use, we’ve created a new kind of product development model few years ago, which is the basic framework for our operation. In the model we apply commonly known methodologies of product development – design thinking, lean startup and agile – to medical environment. Nevertheless, continuous improvement and development are things we want to emphasize continuously. As an example, we have PDM / PLM implementation project ongoing, with aim to streamline our development process as well as design transfer operations even further”, she explains.
When utilizing the new product development model, there are some notable differences that must be accounted – like quality management as well as patient safety and risk management. These determine the design of medical devices right from the idea phase, with increasing intensity.
“The regulations of the whole life-cycle of the product need to be accounted already in the very early idea phase of the design. The intended use and the classification of the device have a significant impact on the laws, standards and regulations as well as on the needed documentation the authorities require. The devices are more difficult and expensive to be redesigned if the product is already close to launch, which naturally has an impact on the budget that might be exceeded and launching schedule that might get overdue”, Tuulos states.
“Thus, we’ve especially wanted to emphasize the importance of concept elaboration to our customers; with the right choices made already during that phase the more agile project schedules can be achieved”, she continues.
Rapid prototyping is also something that’s been emphasized: when the user experience, technological choices as well as the manufacturability of the product are studied already at the product development phase, it will lead to more agile project schedules.
”By implementing iterative prototyping, we’re able to verify that the concept has practical potential with choices made during concept elaboration. When validating the feasibility together with the end users, the feedback you’re able to receive will enable you to develop a well-designed, efficient and user-friendly solution in an agile project schedule”, Tuulos states.
Wide competence pool as a competitive edge
In addition to the internal development actions, Innokas has also refreshed the service offering of its Design Studio during the years. The idea is to help the customers to focus on their own core business by flexibly solving different kinds of outsourcing needs of them.
“We see that we have more clear and flexible service offering now, and it can be better tailored to meet our customers’ specific requirements. We can cooperate with our customers during some specific phase of the development cycle, or even throughout the whole product development process – from idea conceptualization through device development and project implementation to transfer to production. Additionally, we’re able to resource our customers’ projects with individual specialists offered from our competence pool”, Tuulos clarifies.
She believes that the development actions executed during the past years brings added value for Innokas’ customers.
“Our highly skilled Design Studio team includes about 50 employees from all the necessary competence areas of product development, such as electrical and mechanical engineering, software development and data science, industrial and usability design, tester development, prototyping, verification and validation as well as quality, risk and project management. By choosing to develop new innovations with our Design Studio team, our customer gets access to a wide spectrum of competences as well as to new kind of agile product development environment”, Tuulos says and emphasizes:
”Our uniqueness, however, lies in our comprehensive service offering, which, in addition to our Design Studio offering, includes versatile manufacturing and life cycle management services, as well as our strong experience in quality and regulatory affairs. The concept is superior for companies that need long-term co-creation partnerships for the product's whole lifecycle.”
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