We previously spoke about the subject of Makerspace and the objectives, visions and way in which it can create inspiring workplaces. The ability to bring together an array of people with differing skills and experience, but one common goal, has already created businesses and employment opportunities which would not otherwise exist today. One of the most inspiring and public examples of such a concept and its potential is the Center of Medical Innovation of Utah.
The University of Utah
Utah is known as the beehive state of the U.S, taking pride in the industrious label of its history and its silicon clusters. Faithful to the state’s brand, the University of Utah is the embodiment of the spirit of commercialization, ventures and entrepreneurship. Its affiliated makerspace, commonly called the Technology and Venture Commercialization Center, has been recognized nationally as the top space of its kind. It prides itself in the creation of around 16,000 direct and indirect jobs, creating over 320 companies and bringing several ideas from the lab environment to startups before transitioning to commercialized and successful products. Given the medical and bioscience focus of many ventures, as well as the highly trained and successful staff within the university, a specific venture space for medical innovation has emerged: The Center of Medical Innovation of Utah is an impressive example of what venture spaces can do and the way in which they create clusters of specialization.
Center of Medical Innovation
The Center of Medical Innovation pursues the same philosophy of Makerspaces, rallying the health sciences center, with the school of business, the college of engineering and the venture development program. This combination is able to support and develop devices that improve medical practices, are affordable, viable and can benefit the citizens of the world. Faculty members, students, medical staff and development coordinators all work together from concept to commercialization to bring sustainable and innovative solutions to market, in a relatively short space of time.
The Xenoscope laparoscope, one of the many successful devices built within the CMI and featured in the Wall Street Journal, is an $85 device for none invasive surgical procedures. It allows doctors to perform surgery inside a patient’s stomach via a few small holes instead of a large cut. Usually, such operations are performed by regular laparoscopes, which can require between 200k to 700k in investment, are not available in third world countries and can be cumbersome or too delicate to move around easily. The Xenoscope is cheaper and portable, it allows surgery to be performed anywhere, can be plugged into a laptop or a smartphone to be charged and can broadcast the images on a cellphone or a laptop.
Another device that embodies the mission and impact of CMI is the CINluma: made by engineering graduate students, medical students and surgical residents with just a $500 grant, this tool can prevent cervical cancer. It is small, portable, relies on battery power, is easy to manipulate and the manufacturing process relies on flexible 3D printing technology. The device is currently in trials across India but the often long arduous task of gaining FDA approval has already begun. The FDA has been known to fast-track new innovative medical devices which have an obvious ability to save lives – could the CINluma fall into this exclusive group?
Bench To Bedside
The CMI, through a competition called Bench To Bedside, also encourages students to come together and solve various medical practice issues as well as improving existing devices and treatments. To date there has been success in creating better inhalers and catheters that decrease the chance of infection. Students from design to business and engineering to health sciences, have come together and proved that with relatively few resources, a good mentor and a rich panel, their innovative ideas can literally change the lives of people on a daily basis. Makerspace in its many forms is a breeding ground for raw natural innovation and is changing the lives of many people around the world.