University of Michigan - Business Engagement Center

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Business Engagement Center
(734) 647-1000
Engineering Office
(734) 647-1579
Medical School Office
(734) 615-5060
U-M Dearborn Business Engagement Center
(313) 593-5639
U-M Flint Business Engagement Center
(810) 424-5449

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Mbusiness Link - A publication of the University of Michigan Business Engagement Center

MBusinessLink is a quarterly e-newsletter produced by the University of Michigan's Business Engagement Center. The publication brings together all of the news on events, research, resources, and opportunities for industry engagement at the University of Michigan.

Matchmaker for Commercialization Partnerships

The Medical Innovation Center's Prototype Lab is equipped with some of the most advanced prototyping equipment in the state of Michigan and can process nearly every type of medical device.

Thanks to a successful commercialization partnership between a University of Michigan physician and a German-based medical-device manufacturer, pediatric surgeons now have a new surgical tool for performing minimally invasive laparoscopic, or keyhole, operations on infants and young children.

The Medical Innovation Center (MIC) at the U-M School of Medicine supported and advanced the partnership by working closely with Dr. James D. Geiger (BS '83, MDRES '93, MDRES '95), who invented the innovative pyloric grasper, and the Karl Storz Co., which eventually licensed the technology from the University and developed the product for commercial sale. Dr. Geiger is associate professor of surgery in the Medical School and executive director of the Center, which was established in 2008 to accelerate the commercialization of medical devices.

"Much of our company's history is based on collaboration between our people and thought leaders around the world, who together create the synergy that leads to innovation," explains Ali Amiri, vice president of marketing and product development at Storz. "The Medical Innovation Center fulfills a role as a catalyst and clearinghouse for ideas generated by U-M faculty members and guides the maturation of those ideas to a stage where they can be presented to industry." In addition, he says, the Center serves as an important liaison between physicians and industry while they are working out mutually agreeable licensing terms through the U-M Office of Technology Transfer.

"We hope this is just the start and that we will have more opportunities to consider medical innovations for commercialization in the future," Amiri adds. Storz also provided a grant to support a fellow in MIC's year-long fellowship program, which engages post-graduate business, engineering and medical students in the formation and launch of medical-device start-up companies.

"We're trying to bridge the gap between basic University research and the commercialization needs of medical-device companies," says Brenda Jones (MBA '91), MIC managing director. The Center's offerings cover a broad spectrum, ranging from consultative and technical services to an inventor-assistance program to access to high-tech laboratory facilities.

Recently, the Center hosted a team from furniture-maker Steelcase's Nurture division, which spent a week observing intensive-care units at University Hospitals and then incorporated innovative ideas into new designs for workspaces and furnishings. Another company, HistoSonics, which was spun out of the University, utilized the fee-based services at the Center's rapid prototyping lab to fabricate a plastic cast of a hip for use in product testing. "The MIC complements the role of the University's Office of Technology Transfer by assessing the product's adoptability, reimbursement strategy
and regulatory approval path early on in the process," Jones says.

In the case of ATEK Medical, the Center assembled a group of hospital clinicians, nurses and anesthesiologists to provide feedback to the company for the development of a new type of tracheotomy tube for pediatric use.

"In effect, we serve as a matchmaker between University talent and resources and industry players in the medical-device space," Jones says.

More information, contact Brenda Jones, MIC managing director, at or 734.998.6994 or visit