How to Sell a Medical Invention

By Gail Cohen
The medical community, new inventions

Whether you're a bio-medical engineer, medical practitioner, inventor or part-time innovator of new ideas, there comes a time when producing innovations for someone else's company or firm is simply not good enough. You long to take your designs directly to a viable medical source and get more than just a salary for your clever idea. You also want the money and recognition that comes with having your hard work and unique perspective recognized. But as creative thinkers like you have discovered, it takes more than just a great invention to attain that lofty goal. You also need a foot in the right door to pitch your idea.

Work out the kinks in your invention before you think about taking it on the road. You'll need to be your own "R and D" department, evaluating the performance of your medical product, critically and repeatedly. Research and development pros are known to over-test products to stress them, so if there's a chance an item won't hold up over the long haul, weaknesses present themselves early on. Use their approach. You'll be glad you did.

Evaluate the cost of your medical inventions to avoid surprises, should your pitch meeting intrigue company representatives so much they ask you for a cost-to-produce figure. As a general rule, the retail price tag on a medical product is five times the amount it costs to manufacture, so having an idea of this cost can help a company decide if makes good financial sense to add your invention to its product line.

Protect your medical invention by taking legal steps to assure its safety. You may choose to patent or trademark the product. Both processes can be expensive and complex, but the new trend toward layman-friendly software and Internet consultancies means you don't necessarily have to hire a lawyer to do either job. If you undertake the process yourself, it's critical that you understand the differences between patents and trademarks before you choose one. Alternately, follow the advice given by other inventors and apply for both.

Prepare a comprehensive presentation and try it out on friends and colleagues before you start booking appointments to meet with companies about your medical invention. You'll want to flesh out your invention's features and benefits and convince company principals that your concept will boost sales, attract customers, put them on the innovation map and even help them gain respect in their industry---all because they added your invention to their product line. Find a link to a source for writing your proposal at the end of this article.

Draw up a list of every company in the U.S.---and don't eschew those abroad---to whom you plan to present your medical invention. There are several ways to rank-order an approach these firms. If money is an issue, stick close to home and move in concentric circles away from your home base. If your product is so unique it will likely cause an industry-wide directional change, aim for the biggest and most well-known companies. A third approach would be to research the "up and comers." Affiliating your medical invention with a company that is reputed to be on the cutting edge of innovation and known for taking a chance on unusual types of engineering and design could be the firm you want to take your concept into the future.

Contact target medical companies one at a time. Firms don't take kindly to inventors shopping their ideas to everyone on the planet so practice the Zen of patience and approach one company at a time. When you reach a staffer, explain your mission: you've pioneered a unique medical invention that perfectly suits their product mix. If they can't help you, ask to be transferred to someone in marketing or research and development. In some cases, you may find yourself being connected to a division exclusively dedicated to new idea development. Once you've found the right contact, book an in-person appointment.

Draft a nondisclosure document to protect yourself from having your medical invention ripped off by unscrupulous people. Your trademark or patent will certainly give you some protections, but for your own peace of mind, a signed nondisclosure statement is entirely appropriate in such situations---the companies you pitch may even be impressed by your thoroughness, so never walk into a pitch meeting without one.

Make a world-class presentation to your audience. Impress everyone in the room with your professionalism, attention to detail, clear explanations, willingness to answer questions and, most important, your respect for the finite amount time busy executives have at their disposal. Advise the folks at your presentation that you don't plan to take your idea elsewhere until they've made a decision, but ask for a deadline at which point you can take your medical invention to the next corporate name on your list.

About the Author

Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.

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