Joule creates push for solutions developed by MDs

By Rosie Lombardi

Lindee DavidThe CMA recently launched Joule, a for-profit organization dedicated to providing doctors with the network, tools and funding needed to develop healthcare solutions and bring them to market. There are incubators galore across Canada to help doctors seed their business ideas, but very few organizations exist to help these seedlings grow and move on to commercialize their products and services. Joule offers specific assistance to doctors: a $150,000 grant program to help healthcare start-ups (deadline to submit is June 23, 2016); in addition, Joule offers an app that will network its members, and opportunities to access and test new healthcare-related products and services.

“Our mission is to make it easier for physicians to work at their best,” says Joule’s CEO, Lindee David (pictured). “That means recognizing the need for innovation. And who’s better placed to innovate than those who are facing the obstacles in the system? That’s Joule’s goal: to help doctors foster the kind of change that will change the healthcare system for the better in the future.”

To this end, Joule is set up as a for-profit business – but all the revenue it generates will be reinvested back into the business to generate more products and services for physicians across Canada, explains David.

Joule’s business model is to partner with existing start-ups, incubators and business development organizations in order to speed up the growth of the best companies that offer the most promising medical products and services. “There are a lot of innovation hubs and accelerators across the country, and we’ll be looking to partner with them. We can put a product into an accelerator, and take it from ideation right to the bedside. We’re also looking at developing private and public funding models for start-ups.”

David emphasizes that Joule will not be involved in prototype development. “At this stage, we won’t be doing our own incubating. We are going to partner with other organizations that are in the formative stages to accelerate their growth and help them commercialize their products. We want to use the existing infrastructure, and leverage that to make sure we get products out to Canadian physicians.”

Doctors can get involved in Joule various ways: by submitting business ideas, voicing their views about promising medical solutions, and testing products that are generated by Joule’s selected start-ups. To help doctors get involved, the company recently released the Joule app, which connects doctors to Joule’s innovation portal, and more.

“The Joule app gives CMA members access to trusted clinical tools such as the DynaMed Plus point-of-care tool, email summaries of the latest clinical studies, and access to expert search assistance and training on clinical resources.”

The Joule app links doctors to the Joule innovation grant program. “Doctors can submit their ideas through the portal, and then we’ll be awarding grants, starting off modestly at $150,000 with five different grants, and then we’ll be leveraging that to have matching dollars for other grants that we can offer in the future.”

Selected projects must originate from and be led by a CMA member and have some seed funding already in place. The deadline is June 23 for the August 2016 grant submissions. Doctors who want to learn more about Joule grants and to apply need to create a video submission and send it via the Joule App.

Submissions will be reviewed by the Joule Innovation Council, which is comprised of eleven seasoned physicians who have gone through the start-up and commercialization stages with their medical solutions, and two subject matter experts.

In the near future, doctors can get involved in testing medical devices and solutions that the Council has selected as the most promising business ideas to support. “The CMA has over 83,000 members across the country who can potentially get involved in testing. We also have a physician advisory group who are key to testing new products. Based on the due diligence and the testing by our members, we’ll then decide which products we want to move into the marketplace.”

David says leaders will be looking at various factors to determine Joule’s success next year. “One key success factor would be the uptake of our Joule app, which is an indicator of the number of doctors who are getting involved in medical innovation, submitting ideas and searching for funding to get their ideas for solutions up and running. In terms of products that have gone through the Joule program, our expectation is that we will launch two new products by the end of the year.”

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