How to justify optimism in your medical device invention

inventor optimism“If you really want to do it then go for it.” That’s a statement I have heard more than a few times from my teenage children or from one of their friends.  The ensuing ‘ can do’ optimism followed by trial and error are to be applauded in the young, providing of course it’s legal and the bank of dad isn’t in peril! The stakes are generally lower, life skills are being learnt and time is, after all, on their side. That same unqualified optimism can be a train-crash waiting to happen for inventors, though.

All inventions should be novel, inventive and capable,  but they can be fundamentally discernible into those that are commercially viable, in all senses of the phrase, and those that are not. There’s nothing wrong with the latter – if inventing is your thing, you have no ambitions to make money from it and the process itself gives you satisfaction. For the former, however, optimism has to be checked against reality.

Sadly, and on more than one occasion I have come across the brainchild of an inventor playing its last post, leaving behind a bitter trail of disappointed stakeholders, spent rounds of additional ‘we are nearly there’ fund raising and a month of false dawns. Beware what can be an all-engulfing optimism for your idea that you want to commercialise, which can lead to ignoring the test regime your idea simply must pass before committing time, money and effort into your aspirations for becoming the next Edison or Bayliss :


medical device marketIs there a market for the product?

“There are no facts inside the building, so get the heck outside” – Steve Blank

Validate that you have the right product for the right market. Validate that what you have is a ‘must have’ and not a ‘nice to have’ product.

For example, with healthcare products:

  • Consider the implications your product will have on the wider healthcare market.
  • Communicate the ‘value’ of your product to the range of customers who influence uptake.


Is the proposed product technically viable?

If you are intending to protect your invention the chances are that you will not get past the first stages of patent application if your idea is not capable. Otherwise, and early on, get the technical expertise to make that call for you.


Is the current design the most practical and cost effective?

Design your product for manufacture, as I covered in my previous article. Design out the risks for product failure in the market place.


Can we protect the intellectual property behind the product?

Yes indeed, and this will be the subject for my next blog, offering some help with this process.


At OpenWater we have the resources and expertise to provide an objective technical and market assessment of your product, together with help in navigating the early stages of the new product introduction. Want to know more? Get in touch with us by leaving a comment below, or send us an email.

Nick Shelley

Nick Shelley is a consultant with over 30 years of experience, who advises on all aspects of manufacturing, including design, materials, processes, work flow and engineering.

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4 comments on “How to justify optimism in your medical device invention
  1. Liz Streeter says:

    Its so often not the end users of a product who can influence whether an item is needed which is why what Nick has written here has so much validity. Research the ‘need’ as much as the design is a valuable piece of advice. Great blog Nick!!

  2. Robert Lloyd says:

    Sound advice. A hand sized car is no good for the commuter, so who is going to be your buyer? Start with that question first.
    Also, don’t think it can be over a short period of time. Be prepared to put up with every objection and hindrance you can imagine and never give up.
    If you think it will cost you £250,000 to bring a product to market, double it and then double it again. If you are not prepared to put every penny you possess into your invention, don’t start.
    It has taken us 14 years to get the product right in every respect. Now all we have to do is to make the public aware of it.

    Robert Lloyd

  3. Nick Shelley Nick Shelley says:

    You are right on the mark Robert and you obviously conform to the other essential requisites for success – absolute and justified faith in your venture with a dogged determination to succeed.

    • Robert says:

      Hi Nick,
      Thanks for your kind comments. The fact that I am 67 should also encourage people NOT to be ageist. If you have the guts and determination and faith in your product, nothing should stop you, not even your age.

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