Outsourcing your product development doesn’t have to mean losing control of your technology. Although it’s one of the biggest decisions a startup will make, working with a contract supplier can deliver unexpected benefits.
Gary Boseck, VP of technical operations at Vention Medical, says there are ways for startups to prepare for the challenges that come with working with an outsourcing partner.
And partnership, he says, is really the key word. “CMOs want their clients to succeed. They have a vested interest in helping develop a technology that has potential in the market and their expertise can contribute to the likelihood of success.”
Getting a trusted CMO involved early in the process could even have some unexpected benefits. Boseck says some CMOs will provide funding for their most promising startup clients. Others hold contests to attract the best startup technologies and assist in developing those platforms for the market.
Readiness is all
It’s not an easy road to go from ideation to production, Boseck notes. “As the saying goes, if it were easy, someone would have already done it.” But that’s precisely the point: Contract manufacturers have done it, and they’re willing and able to help startups do it as well.
There are a few questions medtech startups should ask themselves when considering whether to look outside the company for product development:
- Can you provide well-defined and stable product requirements? Although adjustments are expected and often necessary, keep in mind that creep can kill deadlines, Boseck notes.
- Do you have clear priorities? Whatever the challenges, your end goals should be very well-defined.
- Can you provide timely feedback to the team? Manufacturing can’t take place in a vacuum. Startups, which often have limited staff, should make the commitment to have a dedicated point of contact for their CMO partner.
- Will you actively engage with the CMO development team? This might be as easy as getting a team member on site frequently.
- Do you understand the development process? If not, ask more questions.
- What are the terms? Make sure IP and ownership of the work product is well-defined.
Another important aspect of engaging with a CMO is the selection process, often a rigorous and challenging process, Boseck explains. Some CMOs actively try to entice startups, but just because they claim to be experts with startups, “they may not meet your specific requirements,” he cautions. Boseck advises budding medical device entrepreneurs to evaluate CMOs based on the following criteria:
- The expertise matches the project need. This should encompass design expertise, clinical familiarity, and component and assembly expertise.
- The CMO offers the full spectrum of needed services. This should include concept ideation and prototyping, clinical production and scalable commercial production.
- The CMO is accessible and responsible. This is the due diligence portion of the analysis. You’ll need to talk to a variety of clients, and conduct some online research, just to start. A good CMO has a reputation for building good working relationships, with an emphasis on trust and transparency.