MUSC Units Help Turn Scientific Research Into Commercial Success


The difficulties associated with commercializing the results of scientific research are nothing new. While, essentially commercializing scientific innovations or novel ideas is the same as with any other product, it can be challenging to develop an idea into a tangible asset, and to find the right market for your end product. At Charleston I SC I USA’s Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), work is well under way to ease this process, through a unique combination of scientific expertise and business acumen.

MUSC has a well-earned reputation as a center of medical innovation and excellence.  It’s also known for its close and growing relationship with local and international businesses; for encouraging entrepreneurship through, for instance, its Foundation for Research Development and for promoting collaboration with the wider network in the Charleston region and beyond. In the past two years it has enhanced this reputation even further through the work of the Institute for Applied Neuroscience (IAN), which has begun to develop and licence new technologies coming out of the MUSC.

Ted Bird has more than 30 years’ experience in sales, marketing and executive leadership in the medical device industry. He was previously President of the Spine Fixation Global Business with Orthofix International, NV and also served as the Senior Vice President, Global Marketing and the Senior Vice President of North American Sales during his time at Orthofix.  His CV also includes key executive and management leadership positions at Depuy Spine, Medtronic Sofamor Danek, Johnson & Johnson Orthopedics, the Microvasive Division of Boston Scientific and Dyonics, (now Smith & Nephew).

Now, Ted has brought this huge experience to the Institute of Applied Neurosciences, (IAN) at MUSC, where he has taken up the post of Chief Operating Officer. “Along with the rest of the team at IAN, including our Chief Technology Officer Mark Semler, we’re able to offer heavy industry experience,” he explains. “It means that we are used to working in a way that is very business-oriented. We are used to working to deadlines, being accountable, and knowing when to agree that if a project is going nowhere, to kill it and move on.”

IAN has been funded by seed money, but it hopes that it will quickly become self-sustaining by licensing out technologies and establishing milestone payments and royalty incomes. It has already taken steps in this direction, and in September licensed a novel, patented spine surgery product to Amendia, Inc, a leading provider of innovative medical devices used during spinal surgical procedures, based in Marietta, Georgia. Amendia acquired the exclusive worldwide rights to manufacture and sell Sinu-Lok™, a novel replacement for standard rod implants used in thoracolumbar spine surgery. Commenting at the time, Ted Bird said “This first license is a validation of our unique innovation incubator / technology accelerator model, demonstrating our ability to transform ideas into valuable healthcare products and make a difference in patients’ lives. We have reviewed over 100 invention disclosures over the past two and a half years and have activated eight projects, six of which are ready for commercial licensing.”

With this sort of success, IAN sees potential for expanding out beyond its current focus, exclusively on neuroscience technology, and to increase some of the work it currently undertakes for licensees, to develop their ideas with the help of IAN engineers.

“In fact MUSC already offers companies located locally in the Charleston area an incredible resource. So not only are they locating in an area where costs are competitive and it’s very easy to recruit, but they also have access to MUSC, where our unit at IAN, along with the MUSC technology transfer office – the Foundation for Research and Development, (FRD), offer fantastic potential for companies to establish themselves, carry out clinical trials and develop their products locally- and as a result, speed up the whole innovation and product development process.”

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