Earlier this year, Fast Company ranked Scopio Labsas the most innovative medical device company of 2023 for its development of an AI platform that automates the analysis of peripheral blood smear tests.
Scopio Labs’ innovation is capable of processing approximately 40 samples per hour, and the firm isn’t stopping there, as it plans to launch a platform to analyze bone marrow samples that will reduce analysis times by more than 60 percent. But the more impressive statistic here is the fact that the company, based in Tel Aviv, employs a mere 119 employees.
These performance metrics showcase not just the ability of one small company to leverage innovation for the benefit of patients around the world, but also the need for the U.S. to step up its innovation investment in the MedTech industry so more companies like Scopio Labs have the ability to contribute life-changing technologies to the industry.
Revolutionary technologies must be taken advantage of
In recent years, technological innovation in the automation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (“AI”) spaces have transformed traditional U.S. industries such as manufacturing and agriculture, dramatically increasing efficiencies and outputs. And although there are myriad examples of a thriving American MedTech sector, Ireland lays claim to nine out of the world’s top ten MedTech companies.
The benefits of utilizing technologies such as AI in the healthcare space are proven. Beyond patient testing and care, these technologies can also help to root out inefficiencies in workflow patterns through analysis of large data sets in order to optimize source allocation as well as patient scheduling. It’s critical that we work as a country to maximize the strength of American MedTech innovation.
The recently passed CHIPS Act, which specifically set aside $2 billion for legacy chips in medical devices, was certainly a step in the right direction. And key tax incentives, such as the Research and Development Tax Credit, do reward innovation in the space. However, more can be done in order to coalesce the true strength of American innovation in the MedTech space as AI and other technologies continue their rapid pace of development.
How Congress can support a ‘Silicon Valley’ approach
The solution? Ensuring that firms of all sizes have a seat at the table and that efforts to bring technologies such as AI and machine learning into the healthcare space are rewarded.
Many of our country’s greatest medical innovations began with startups employing 5 to 10 employees. And more than 80 percent of medical device companies having fewer than 50 employees.
Congress should consider business credits that specifically reward small and medium-sized MedTech companies for their innovation efforts while also considering more creative financial incentives for those businesses who are working to open up the world of AI in the MedTech space through data sharing as well as open-source code or other technology-sharing efforts.
An open-source approach is one we’ve seen prove quite successful in the flourishing tech community that is Silicon Valley. When technology is made more accessible for others to easily build off of, it creates a thriving atmosphere for innovation – from big and small firms alike – which is just what the Healthcare industry needs.
Further, Congress should consider incentivizing MedTech companies to share healthcare innovations in an equitable manner so that Americans of all economic backgrounds have access to new life-altering technologies.
In August, the U.K. government announced a £13 million investment in research aimed at integrating AI into the healthcare space.
The funding, from the U.K. Research and Innovation’s Technology Missions Fund, “will involve universities stretching from Edinburgh to Surrey,” and is a direct effort to digitalize the country’s healthcare systems. The U.S. Congress must also debate the merits of increased research funding or targeted grants so that teams in the public and private sectors can benefit.
The White House’s Cancer Moonshot has a goal of “ending cancer as we know it.” The endeavor has already made significant progress and is a strong example of mobilizing and leveraging both the public and private sectors.
The same action should be taken across the healthcare space. AI, machine learning, and other technologies are developing at a pace that will require all hands on deck for U.S. MedTech companies to innovate to maximum effect.
American MedTech companies large and small are on the cusp of discovering the next great medical contribution and the United States cannot afford to be on the sidelines if we want to stay ahead of our foreign competitors.
From self-screening cancer detection to AI-enabled drug discovery, the possibilities are endless. This is a worthy goal that has the potential for great benefit, but as the President’s Cancer Moonshot website claims, “It will take all of us doing our part.”