Tapping on expert advice to thrive in medtech
With more than 30 years of experience in transforming novel ideas into marketable products, IPI innovation Advisor John Teo is keen on helping start-ups master the art of commercialisation.

The advent and advancement of medical technology, or medtech, encompasses a vast range of healthcare products used to treat medical conditions, and has benefited the lives of many. From improving outcomes of critical illnesses through earlier diagnosis, to shortening hospital stays and rehabilitation periods, the impact of medtech on the overall quality of human life has been nothing short of profound.

Eyeing the life-saving opportunities that the medtech industry can bring to humankind, as well as its attractive US$380 billion price tag—forecasted to soar to roughly US$600 billion in 2024—many start-ups in the sector are keen to grab a piece of the pie. But with a high failure rate of 75 per cent, bringing innovative medical technologies to market is no mean feat.

Fortunately, to bolster the expanding medtech sector, seasoned expert and IPI Innovation Advisor John Teo leverages his wealth of experience in commercialising innovative medical products to offer helpful guidance for fledging companies as they navigate market complexities.

Understanding what it takes to succeed

Following three decades worth of experience in research and development, technology and product transfer, manufacturing, materials, supply chain and business management, Teo understands the landscape of the medtech business inside and out. Besides having three lancet design patents under his belt, Teo is also the founder of two burgeoning medtech companies—Surgilance Pte Ltd, renamed as MediPurpose Pte Ltd, and Medical Innovations Pte Ltd, which was later acquired by another company.

On his experience founding both companies, Teo highlighted that the overarching principles a start-up is recommended to have are: sufficient industry know-how, a strategic execution plan, mutually beneficial partnerships and customer feedback.

“It is also important to ensure that your products are designed with novelty and innovation in mind,” said Teo. “Medical innovations are sold based on the value of the intellectual property and not on the value of the business.”

While the medtech industry may be relatively slow in responding to paradigm shifts due to stringent regulatory requirements, Teo expects that the industry can potentially be pushed to greater heights by new technologies incorporating artificial intelligence, data analytics and cloud computing.

Helping start-ups take off

As an IPI Innovation Advisor, Teo has advised several start-ups as they transform novel solutions into commercialised products. One example is Innovfusion, a Singapore-based company focused on novel pain management technologies that help women improve safety and reduce pain during labour.

During their early years, Innovfusion had difficulties raising funds due to their inexperience. With substantial experience encompassing a vast range of functional roles of management like business and product development, Teo streamlined the manufacturing process of Innovfusion’s products, sought strategic partners for the company and equipped them with international standardisation know-how. As a result, Innovfusion was able to hit the ground running with their innovative products, evolving into the promising medtech company they are today.

Teo was also involved in advising Quikpath, a company dedicated to accessible diagnostic testing for infectious diseases like COVID-19, by putting accurate, affordable and uncomplicated test kits directly into the hands of end-users.

To thoroughly and rigorously assess their innovative diagnostic technology for consumer use, Quikpath had to carry out extensive clinical trials at reputable hospitals—a task that can be a challenge without the right contacts. Through his expansive web of connections, Teo surmounted the difficulty and successfully set the company up with KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, allowing researchers at Quikpath to perform clinical trials which are still ongoing.

Breaking beyond medtech

As an established inventor and technopreneur in the medtech space, Teo’s astute business acumen makes him well-positioned to guide aspiring start-ups not just in the medtech sector but also in other industries.

“After spending much time in medtech, being able to anticipate potential problems young companies might face is one of my strong suits,” explained Teo. “The technical knowledge I possess in the field helps me solve complex problems efficiently and reduce product time-to market.”

With expert guidance provided by IPI Innovation Advisors like Teo, start-ups and SMEs alike can gain the confidence and abilities they need to traverse the sea of complexities on the journey to product commercialisation.

If your company is looking to accelerate your medtech innovation’s time-to-market, check out the IPI Innovation Advisors Programme for more information on how an advisor can help.