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Side-stepping the valley of death in New York City

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1 Author(s)

Five years ago, I had never heard of the "valley of death." But recently it appears all around me, lying in wait for any misstep. As a research professor in biomedical engineering, I spend a great amount of time carefully shepherding seemingly successful technologies from falling into this valley of oblivion. Typically, one enters the valley of death when you have developed a working medical instrument in academia for proof-of-concept, but there are no viable commercial applications on the horizon. Academic projects are often started to improve medical care while reducing costs to society, but those goals must change to the singular goal of profit when a technology goes to industry. Thus, many technologies are never licensed to industry after success in academia, thereby falling into this valley of death. Reasons may be the lack of protection of intellectual property, that the new technology cannot be manufactured at a low enough cost, or withstand the rigors of the hospital environment. Review from federal government agencies may be seen as too costly a hurdle, although the National Institutes of Health are shifting their attention to tackle this problem.

Published in:

Potentials, IEEE  (Volume:29 ,  Issue: 1 )