Together with the Medical University of Vienna, LISAvienna organized a business meeting on May 9 where the topic was the development of innovative medical products. After opening words by LISAvienna manging directors Peter Halwachs and Johannes Sarx, Michaela Fritz (Vice Rector for Research and Innovation) greeted the guests in the newly renovated Van Swieten Hall. Four brief presentations by experts from MedUni Vienna highlighted the importance of medical product development for the university from different viewpoints. The picture which formed from the many facets which were presented speaks volumes: due to their major clinical impacts and relevance, the development of innovative medical products is now an integral part of the day-to-day operation of the university. In addition, the development projects themselves are important anchor points for the collaboration with the "Who’s Who" of the medical device branch. Many opportunities for cooperation can be found here: from the CD-Lab to contract work, from collaboration for out-licensing agreements to sales of patents. The path to market for innovation does not just lead through collaboration with existing companies, patents and scientific publications. Startups and spinoffs also contribute so that innovations emerge from the academic environment into everyday use.
Winfried Mayr, professor at the Center for Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering and chairman of the Austrian Society for Biomedical Engineering (ÖGBMT), gave an overview of the vast expanse of clinically relevant development projects in medical engineering at MedUni Vienna. Extensive technologies are available at the center, which range from hardware and software development to mechanical production, 3-D printing from CAD/CAM drawings and a research laboratory for the production of high-field MR components, an ultrasound laboratory, electrode development, and a laboratory for artificial organs. This infrastructure can be used for the development of prototypes within the framework of research projects specific to the university, patent applications (function models) and for external contracts and collaborations. Especially impressive was the list of corporate partners, which include many major corporate players including MED-EL, Ottobock, Siemens and Zeiss. Those working toward their PhD in biomedical engineering and medical physics, those taking part in postgraduate studies in medical physics , as well as students from many other academic institutions in Vienna all have the highest level of regard for the center.
Bruno Podesser, director of the Department for Biomedical Research and founding coordinator of the Ludwig Boltzmann Cluster for Cardiovascular Research , emphasized in his presentation that progress in human medicine today can often not take place without the use of research animals. Since the end of the 1950s, work has been performed according to the principle that the experiments must be well-planned and refined, reduced as regards the number of cases and replaced with alternative methods wherever possible. In Austria, this is a strictly regulated area subject to approval, with high quality requirements. To discontinue this type of research would, by the way, not lead to less experimentation on animals, but would rather lead to the transfer of those experiments to other countries with lower standards. Animals which are used at MedUni Vienna range from mice to sheep, so that medical innovations can be tested before the next step to patients takes place. As a cardiac surgeon, Podesser focuses on cardiovascular illnesses, the cause of death of almost half of all Europeans. Currently under development are, for instance, microcurrent therapies for heart insufficiency as well as small lumen prosthetics for cardiac use.
Benjamin Reutterer from the Coordination Center for Clinical Studies (KKS) at MedUni Vienna guides the path to the successful clinical testing of medical products and in vitro diagnostics (IVDs), by this providing an overview of the services offered by the KKS. The Consultation Center for Clinical Research, founded in 2008, currently has 11 employees working on the planning and implementation of 39 academically and commercially sponsored studies. The KKS is available for free initial consultations for potentially interested companies. Depending on individual requirements, a package can be completed for the entire process of a study beginning at the planning stage through the implementation phase including insurance, or for just a portion of the services offered. The KKS offers ICH – GCP / ISO 14155 compliant projects and is ISO 9001 certified. Reutterer also focused on the three most important reporting procedures for clinical testing of medical products and IVDs, thereby clarifying especially the administrative procedures before the start of a clinical test. In 2015, a total of 76 studies were carried out at the MedUni Vienna according to the Medical Products Law, as well as four combined studies subject to both the Pharmaceutical Drug Law and the Medical Products Law. Added to this are 19 non-interventional studies and 160 studies subject to the Pharmaceutical Drug Law.
Michael Hoschitz, director of the Technology Transfer Division and coordinator of the Science and Technology Transfer Center East (WTZ Ost) , provided information about the industrial uses of research results of Medical University Vienna. Along with classic intellectual property rights protected knowledge such as patents, the objects transferred byf MedUni Vienna also contain technologies without any copyrights (TOS) such as published cell lines, antibodies, biological material or calculation formulas, and "Scores", as well as software protected by copyright and – although very seldom – also secret know-how. The expansive amount of content is enormous, and it reaches from technologies and products which have a direct positive impact on patients all the way to those who indirectly support the effort by making the work easier for doctors. The technology transfer division itself takes care of countless IPR issues. A close exchange with researchers, lectures and seminars lay the groundwork for all technology transfer activities, from testing to innovation reports, to IPR, to the transfer of rights and patent- and license management. Successful implementation often also requires downstream research activities, for which third-party funds are raised, as well as prototype development. All in all, the technology transfer strategy of MedUni Vienna makes sense as the increasing numbers of patents granted and licensing contracts show.
After the presentation programs, the guests at LISAvienna Business Treff had the opportunity to experience a variety of demonstrations. This, along with other informational material, allowed them to get to know several Viennese founding projects and startups, as well as researchers from MedUni Vienna. Ingenuity and a high level of engagement for the medical products of the future were especially demonstrated by:
- Critical Core Technologies
- EMTensor GmbH
- medizinkraft solutions GesmbH & Co KG
- piur imaging GmbH
- SCARLETRED Holding GmbH
- SIMCharacters GmbH