This is the first in a short series of articles based on my experiences as an entrepreneur of commercialising med tech and life sciences. I hope some of my revelations and lessons learned will be of use and will help others avoid some of the pitfalls that I’ve had to learn from.
Crucible came about in late 2015 because I was involved in a Scottish Enterprise consultation on med tech strategy for Scotland. One of the objectives was to identify barriers that were impeding start-ups from establishing successfully and realising their full global potential. Scotland has an international reputation for inventing and innovating within its academic and clinical base, we probably have the best structured and co-ordinated business angel networks in the world. We have the best economic development agency that I’ve ever come across in Scottish Enterprise and we have a government that is pro-entrepreneurial and pro-active in the initiatives it offers to start, grow and benefit from businesses. Scottish Enterprise wanted to know, on behalf of the industry, whether anything was still missing from the med tech landscape.
A number of opportunities for improvement were identified and the finished report will be published in due course. I think it has been a fantastic and well conducted exercise and I personally have benefited greatly from taking part. I now have a deeper understanding of the needs of our sector and the potential economic impact we can have if we pull together, support each other and get it right.
Of the opportunities identified, one was a gap in small-scale regulated manufacturing. Scotland is well served by some excellent design houses and prototype makers, and there is good access to high-volume contract manufacturers. What’s missing is the transition between the two. A provider of manufacturing and supply chain services to manage the production of batches of regulated devices for clinical and market trials and for addressing the first stage of market access: selling the first fully homologated units to early-adopter, arms-length customers. I founded Crucible to fill that gap and to be an integrated part of the medical device commercialisation landscape. So we are in essence a small-scale manufacturer specifically supporting early-stage med tech companies.
To fully meet the need, we take a holistic approach integrating design inputs, regulatory inputs and market requirement inputs; supporting our customer as early as possible in the process through development, into manufacturing and onto the market. Our objectives are to ensure our customer has the right product for the right user at the right scale and at the right price. We aim to mitigate product risk by minimising the unknowns. An ideal outcome will see a better product on the market and gaining traction faster, delivering clinical benefit and earning its keep.
The name Crucible came about because of our integrated approach to supporting early-stage companies as they develop their product with a view to manufacturing it at scale. One definition of crucible refers to a bringing together of elements in a transformative process to create something new.
That, in a nutshell, is what we do to support our clients as they progress through the stages of device specification, design, development, validation and approval. Then we bring it together and all the elements are transformed into a manufactured product that is fit to meet a market need at the right price.
I hope to meet some of you over the next year and I wish all of you a happy and successful 2016.