Immucor CEO Bill Hawkins talks about medical technology innovation Major barriers to medical technology innovation and opportunities for collaboration were the themes of the 5th Annual Academic & Industry Intersection Conference held at the Georgia Tech Research Institute.
MAC leaders joined partners from Georgia Bio and the Atlanta Clinical & Translational Science Institute (ACTSI) to hear about success stories between industry, academic and regulatory partners for getting products to market faster.
Katie Kirkpatrick, senior vice president for policy, innovation and entrepreneurship at the Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC) spoke briefly about MAC’s efforts to strengthen the connectivity between area universities and the business community and startups as part of MAC’s Business Higher Education initiative. Part of that effort includes connecting academic research partners with companies in metro Atlanta that could benefit from new technologies and innovative research.
Kirkpatrick also introduced the keynote speaker, William A. “Bill” Hawkins, CEO of Immucor, Inc.
Hawkins talked about the challenges and opportunities in getting products to market at a conference aimed at the intersection of academia and industry. He noted that the key for medical innovation was collaboration.
Factors such as an aging population, the prevalence of chronic disease, emerging market needs and personalized medicine were among the driving trends for innovation in the healthcare industry. Rising healthcare costs and the increasing burden of over-regulation, as well as access to care in emerging markets, introduce challenges to commercializing products.
Medical discoveries are happening so quickly, that FDA regulations can’t keep up, Hawkins said. Perhaps the largest obstacle to getting products into the marketplace, he noted, is the challenge in implementing clinical trials and reducing approval periods. Helping researchers and clinicians reduce the time it takes to get the applications and the approvals from federal regulators is critical.
Hawkins had retired in 2011 as CEO of Medtronic, one of the world’s largest medical device companies. But he had the itch to try something else after a short while. “I flunked retirement,” he joked with the audience and said he joined TPG Capital, a private equity firm that bought companies, invested in them and accelerated their growth. Immucor was one of TPG’s portfolio companies, and he eventually joined the company as its CEO.
Founded in 1982, Immucor is headquartered in Norcross, Ga. A pioneer in the diagnostic space, it focuses on blood transfusions and transplant diagnostics. Its core technology focuses on innovation to ensure safe transfusions and transplants.
The ACTSI is a joint effort between Emory University, Georgia Tech and Morehouse School of Medicine. Its goal is to strengthen and accelerate the process of bringing scientific discoveries to the community and ease the challenges in clinical and translational research.