NASS 2016: For Spine Innovation, Agility is the Key Ingredient

Jeff Schell, CEO, TranS1 -   Print  |

The research and development landscape in the spine industry is full of barriers to entry, fraught with red tape and littered with failed ideas that never make it past the concept phase. The common thread among companies able to navigate this environment and develop breakthrough innovations is agility. Agility enables innovators to adapt to a rapidly shifting market, to work around barriers, and to pull together the right resources at the right time with the right concept.

Innovation is costly and time-consuming, but the results of innovation lead to dramatically improved patient outcomes. Innovation is also risky. Some companies prefer to either acquire improved technologies, or worse, to avoid the risks associated with transformation, preserving the status quo. At TranS1, the opposite is true. Our mission is to identify, develop, and market breakthroughs in spine.


A carefully designed mix of product development capabilities, business partnerships, and culture have enabled our team to develop innovative technologies that will drastically improve patient lives. At the Annual NASS Conference this week in Boston, TranS1 will unveil two new technologies that will launch in 2017 (BOOTH 1232):


• Capital Bone Graft Harvester features a saw-tooth profile and shaft fenestration for consistent and reproducible bone grafting. The Capital Harvester is patent pending and will be available in January.
• Pylon Graft Delivery enables MIS bone graft placement along the transverse processes by using the same incisions as those used for posterior instrumentation. The technology is patent pending and will be available in 2017.


Innovation Blueprint


When it comes to innovation in spine, TranS1 is a speedboat in an industry of steamships. Here is our blueprint for bringing concepts to market.


Culture of Innovation – We have found that developing a customized product development process based on our company strengths leads to a culture of innovation. TranS1 uses the following pillars to maintain that culture throughout our company:


1. Flexible structure where the team is cross-trained and has the agility to respond to rapidly changing market needs and surgeon demands
2. Supportive leadership that encourages the team to fearlessly iterate until reaching a transformative solution
3. Open development process where the best ideas win
4. Inclusive ideation where solutions can come from anyone, anywhere, and at any time – from an intern to the CEO


Define & Amplify Our Strengths & Those of Our Partners – As a smaller company, a critical factor in maintaining agility is the cultivating the right business relationships to augment our core aptitudes. This necessitates defining how we can put our unique advantages to work for our partners. Rather than sinking money into costly and rapidly changing technological capital, we develop mutually beneficial relationships with best-in-class partners who can be engaged rapidly when needed. This enables TranS1 to invest wisely.


Protect Your Ideas – Without guarding intellectual property, innovation is wasted. As a patent lawyer, I can uniquely appreciate that idea. Defining the unique benefits of a transformative concept at the onset of the development process is pivotal to establishing intellectual property protection. TranS1 is built on a foundation of strong patents and led with a mission of IP enforcement.


TranS1 proceeds on its mission to advance technologies that minimize tissue trauma related to the approach to the spine, while maximizing patient outcomes. Our blueprint for success in innovation continues to define us as one of the most innovative companies in the medical device market.


Jeff Schell is President & CEO of TranS1

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