Intellectual Ventures’ Latest Big Push: Turning Med-Tech Inventions Into Cash

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in things that people and their bacteria-laden fingers touch every day, like a screen on a smartphone, an iPad, an automated teller machine, or a ticket kiosk at an airport.

That’s a technology that could go across industries. Inventors, of course, don’t often know where the best applications are for ideas like that. When Duesterhoft looked at it, he thought of one of the dirtiest things found in the average hospital—an infusion pump. If you could put a self-sanitizing technology into an infusion pump, suddenly there’s a new line of defense against all kinds of invading pathogens that can be really dangerous to patients, and cause hospitals a lot of potential legal liability. The IV execs didn’t get into a lot of detail about what evidence exists to support this idea, although Hawkins says the anti-microbial data he’s seen so far is “compelling, to say the least.”

Another idea, which Hawkins didn’t want to talk about in detail, has the potential “to shake up the wound care world.”

Sure, these guys are new to the job, and at times they sounded a little like kids in a candy store. They essentially have got a lot of technology that gives them some bargaining chips to work with when they sit across the table from big healthcare companies that need new innovations to replace old products with expiring patents.

So far, Intellectual Ventures hasn’t yet struck any commercial licensing deals for these medical technologies, and it will take time to see what kind of results Hawkins and Duesterhoft can get. But they are clearly having some fun thinking through what ideas can be turned into real-world applications.

“If you were to walk in our office, you’d see stacks and stacks of patent applications that we’re going through,” Hawkins says. “Our job is to say, out of this big grass field, what 10-square-yard piece of grass do we want to focus on, and reduce to practice, if necessary, in IV’s labs, because I think Siemens might be interested, or Boston Scientific might, or J&J is right in this space, and three years from now, they’ll really need this. That’s where we want to be.”

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