Collaborations between med tech companies and healthcare providers are becoming the new norm, and Boston Scientific ($BSX) is wise to the trend. The company this week is revealing a long-standing research deal with Mayo Clinic aimed at improving medical devices.
Boston Scientific and Mayo Clinic kept the agreement a secret for three years, but now the pair is publicly forging ahead with its research plans. Boston Scientific and Mayo Clinic, under the guidance of Mayo Clinic Ventures, have about a dozen projects in the works, including four that will reach "first-in-man" clinical trials in 2016.
"Open approaches to innovation, such as our collaboration with Mayo Clinic, can more quickly put better tools and devices in the hands of physicians to improve the health and well-being of patients," Boston Scientific CEO Michael Mahoney said in a statement.
One of the projects involves developing a new centering catheter for heart valve procedures, and the pair is close to testing that device in humans. Another idea is finding a new use for Boston Scientific's Precision Spectra Spinal Cord Stimulator. Boston Scientific and Mayo Clinic will test out that device later this year, The Star Tribune Reports.
"This really starts at the beginning. It's going in with a blank sheet of paper, not us coming in with specific products and ideas," Kevin Ballinger, Boston Scientific's SVP and president of Interventional Cardiology, told the newspaper. "It's engineers and physicians in their environment, jointly understanding what are some of the unmet clinical needs, before talking about product solutions."
The collaboration has largely been shrouded in secrecy, which is typical for many med techs, the newspaper points out. Patent disputes and regulatory scuffles over proprietary technology are problems that can affect large and small companies, and prompt them to keep ideas under lock.
But there is a "level of trust" between Boston Scientific and Mayo that allows the partnership to run smoothly, Andrew Danielsen, director of business development at Mayo Clinic Ventures, told the Star Tribune. Both sides realize "that the value that is created here is shared fairly," Danielsen said.
"We have predetermined how any party will share in any financial benefits that arise from the work that we do together," Danielsen said. "But as any good lawyer will tell you, the contract is the last thing you should rely on. I have to say … this has worked well because of good people. They've been good partners."