Fueling innovation in Lebanon’s healthcare sector
University St. Joseph, American University of Beirut, Banque Du Liban (BDL), the Lebanese Healthcare Management Association (LHMA), and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Medical Devices Middle East and Africa open a window to innovation in the medical field
Saint Joseph University, American University of Beirut, Banque Du Liban (BDL), the Lebanese Healthcare Management Association (LHMA), and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Medical Devices Middle East and Africa open a window to innovation in the medical field.
BEIRUT, April 29th - Lebanon’s leading medical universities, BDL, LHMA and J&J Medical Devices have teamed up to foster Lebanese innovation in the medical field and support efforts to develop the country into an innovation hub for healthcare technology. University St. Joseph (USJ), American University of Beirut (AUB), Banque Du Liban (BDL), the Lebanese Healthcare Management Association (LHMA), and Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Middle East and Africa organized a seminar on “Medical Devices: From Idea to FDA Approval” at USJ Faculty of Medicine on April 29 to provide a window into Johnson & Johnson’s innovation process and how advancements in medical technology can improve the quality of life for billions of people around the world.
The seminar livestreamed presentations by two U.S.-based senior directors at Johnson & Johnson to explain the process of bringing new medical ideas to life, from identifying a concept based on an unmet need, to product development and presenting ideas to companies. The event, the first of its kind in the Middle East, was attended by clinicians, healthcare providers, medical engineers, computer scientists, researchers and students.
Mr. Bassam Tabshouri, Director of the Medical Engineering Department at AUB, and Prof. Dolla Karam Sarkis, Vice President for Research at USJ, noted the importance of collaboration between universities, industry and research centers to nurture innovation in the medical field. Mr. Tabshouri highlighted vital measures taken by BDL to provide access to funding as an integral part of building an ecosystem for innovation.
“We need to understand how to approach innovation in healthcare technologies in a professional way. We need to know how to be able to sell an idea to an international company like Johnson & Johnson. After all, it is useless to be creative and innovative if we cannot sell what we create,” Mr. Tabshouri said, pointing out that innovation in healthcare technologies in the United States and Europe is mostly carried out by companies with less than 10 employees.
Said Haddad, Managing Director Medical Devices Middle East and Africa, stressed Johnson & Johnson’s commitment to patients and communities in the region and worldwide, and to meaningful innovation that provides patients with the best healthcare possible.
“I can tell you that innovation is the lifeblood of companies like Johnson & Johnson and I would argue that innovation is the lifeblood of a vibrant healthcare system; a healthcare system that continues to rise up to the challenges that keep coming at it, whether we are talking about communicable diseases or as importantly non-communicable diseases,” Mr. Haddad told the gathering.
Intellectual property is a non-exhaustible resource that can contribute to Lebanon’s economy and help bridge a $14 billion gap in the country’s trade balance, Second Vice Governor of BDL, Saad Andary, said at the event.
“Lebanon, with its geographic location, accredited medical centers, prestigious schools, and outstanding students, can become the regional medical center, the hub of medical services and medical tourism for the Middle East and North Africa,” he added, stressing the importance of proper accreditation, quality assurance and regional health service agreements in helping realize this vision.
During the event, participants had the opportunity to share experiences and present ideas ranging from wearable technology and medical software to new surgical devices, and to discuss processes with the two Johnson & Johnson experts.
Mark Hanes, Worldwide Director for Hip Development, noted that the creation of a new product should always start with an unmet need and, using hip joint replacements as an example, walked the audience through the product development process. Chris Papa, Senior Director of Research & Development Energy, illustrated how to uncover opportunities and elaborated on the development process for devices with embedded software. He stressed the importance of applying for patent protection before approaching any firm with an idea and explained how to partner with Johnson & Johnson through its Innovation Idea Portal.
The event was organized by the Healthcare Technology Management and Advancement (HTMA) committee of the LHMA and Johnson & Johnson, and was sponsored by BDL, Johnson & Johnson and USJ.