From idea to innovation to real-world impact: a medical technology’s journey to market

Bringing a health care product or service to market can be a difficult process to navigate. It can also vary greatly depending on the market.

Fortunately, Canada has a team of international business experts at the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service (TCS). They help guide health care innovators through the process of going international, letting them focus their time and energy on their life‑changing — and life‑saving — solutions.

Founder and CEO Michelle Laflamme started Montreal‑based company Emovi to address the shortfalls she saw in knee and joint pain treatment. Knee pain can be especially difficult to diagnose because providers do not have an easy way to observe joints when the patient is moving. X‑rays and MRIs can inform clinicians about the structure of the joint. However, a patient’s pain is correlated with dynamic movement patterns, not static maging.

Determined to ease the difficult path to diagnosis, Emovi developed KneeKGTM. Similar to an EKG for the heart, the KneeKG system provides an assessment of 3D knee motion for patients who have impaired movement functions of an orthopedic cause.

After developing a breakthrough medical technology came the need to acquire approval from the United States (U.S.) Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, it can be a long and complicated process to bring even the most sought‑after technologies to market.

Michelle Laflamme
Michelle Laflamme, founder and CEO of Emovi

Emovi discovered a free accelerator program delivered by the TCS out of Boston, the Canadian Technology Accelerator (CTA) life sciences program. This program was one of the first offered to Canadian life sciences companies over 10 years ago. It was developed in an effort to give them a soft landing as they look to open up shop in the U.S., while offering participants a tailored experience with seasoned mentors and experts dedicated to their success.

Thanks to tailored advice, connections to relevant, potential new partners and investors, and the knowledge gained through participating in the CTA, Emovi was able to sell its solution to major health systems in the Boston area.

The CTA not only helped the startup approach clinics through tailored introductions, but also assisted with improving communications with health care leaders and decision‑makers in a way that made sense for a virtual world in 2020. By organizing various studies and succinctly developing impactful key messages, Emovi also improved the way it promoted its KneeKG solution.

Since participating in the CTA, Emovi has been able to complete a major medical trial with Penn Medical System. This work allowed the company to launch its product commercially, and today, Emovi has more than 100 clients and is in talks with two prominent New England‑based health systems.

“Working closely with the TCS in Boston not only allowed us to validate our solution, but Trade Commissioners helped us understand the nuances and complexities of the health care space,” Laflamme says.

Boston‑based Trade Commissioner Serban Georgescu accomplished this by setting up meetings with major health systems to better understand their needs and how they work. This also provided an opportunity for health care leaders and administrators in New England to learn about and gain exposure to the TCS’s network of innovators in an efficient way. From there, the TCS helped both groups make informed and interesting connections.

Laflamme says Georgescu and others in his network brought a much‑needed knowledge base as well as curiosity to the partnership. “The positive energy is contagious, and you can really feel they want you to succeed.”

The health systems in the Boston area are some of the best in the world. These networks are providing top-notch care for patients throughout New England. The largest health systems often employ tens of thousands of professionals across many specialties, representing an excellent opportunity for businesses in the health care space. However, it can be hard to know where to start or how to get your foot in the door. The good news is that the Boston life sciences CTA team is there to help their Canadian clients get a sense of the ins‑and‑outs of these networks.

“Boston continues to be a hub for medical research and development, and we are excited to continue to make connections for innovators like Emovi. These life‑changing solutions represent exciting benefits to both clinicians and their patients,” says Georgescu.

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