Alternative business models might allow photonics-based bioinstrumentation a more competitive stance in the market. That was a theme of discussion during the "What Bioinstrumentation Developers Need from the Photonics Industry" panel at the 2017 Lasers and Photonics Marketplace Seminar (January 30, 2017, San Francisco, CA) during SPIE Photonics West. In fact, three different audience members—representing suppliers of components and subsystems—urged the panelists to consider a razors-and-razor-blades business model to lower the bar to entry for early adopters of new technology.
The panel was made up of leaders from startup companies in various stages of commercialization for applications ranging from flow cytometry to early detection of esophageal cancer, and from imaging of immune system function to laser-based vision correction. While some panelists offered perspectives challenging the razor-blade model, the suggestion did spark discussion and provided fodder for further consideration.
The conversation was part of a lively exchange that shed some light on what, according to Coherent president and CEO John Ambroseo, keeps him awake at night: Shifts experienced by instrumentation developers that may impact component suppliers. Ambroseo presented the seminar's keynote.
The panel members were:
Wayne Knox of Clerio Vision, which is commercializing laser-induced refractive index change (LIRIC) technology that his U. of Rochester group developed in collaboration with Bausch & Lomb to provide vision correction more safely and less invasively than LASIK.
Eman Namati of NinePoint Medical, which uses optical coherence tomography (OCT) for detection of esophageal cancer—a procedure for which NinePoint recently received a 130% increase in Medicare reimbursement. The company's next-gen platform allows not only real-time imaging, but also marking for treatment guidance.
Eva Sevick of NIRF Imaging pioneered near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) for molecular imaging, which is the first technology ever to address the unmet clinical need of imaging the immune (lymphatic) system. The approach has been used to guide treatment now for 400+ patients, and she founded NIRF Imaging to commercialize devices and imaging agents based on this work.
Giacomo Vacca of Kinetic River, who spent 20 years in industrial R&D developing and commercializing various instruments before launching a company offering custom, modular, and fluorescence lifetime flow cytometers. Kinetic River recently placed a flow cytometer at the National Cancer Institute, and also won a couple of important patents.
The panelists, eager to hear from the audience, fielded other questions as well. In addition, they had requests of the audience. Specifically, Namati urged suppliers to get involved in academic work to support innovation and get their offerings designed in to systems early on; Sevick asked for help to develop instrumentation standards that she says will help bioinstrumentation developers gain trust in the market; and Vacca requested that suppliers help instrumentation developers by creating standards to enable comparison—for instance, to allow apples-to-apples comparison of traditional photomultiplier tubes (PMTs) with silicon photomultipliers (SiPMs).
The 2017 Lasers and Photonics Marketplace Seminar also featured a presentation by Brian Pogue, co-founder of DoseOptics, titled, "Trends in biomedicine drive opportunities in biophotonics."