Unlocking success for MedTech start-ups: navigating the commercialisation journey

29 Sep 23

Are you a Med-Tech startup embarking on your commercialisation journey? Do you want to know how to avoid common pitfalls that could be in your path?

If so, this is the article for you!

The medical technology field is a hub of innovation, consistently unveiling novel devices and solutions. Yet, for every ground-breaking device that reaches the market, numerous others never see the light of day. The journey from ideation to commercialisation is full of challenges, and many start-ups falter due to a lack of foresight, planning, and expertise.

A telling statistic reveals that the average cost to bring a 510(k) medical product from concept to market exceeds $31 million, with over 77% of this cost being spent during the development phase.

As a medical device marketing agency, we’ve witnessed first-hand the struggles of MedTech companies.

Too often, they enter the market lacking the compelling evidence needed to truly differentiate themselves, essentially starting their commercial journey with one hand tied behind their back. This isn’t due to a lack of innovation or dedication, but rather a gap in understanding the intricate roadmap to successful commercialisation.

In this article, we’ll bridge that gap, offering insights to help companies set themselves up for unparalleled commercial success.

The risks of neglecting early planning

In the MedTech arena, cutting corners in the initial planning stages can lead to significant repercussions:

  • Design-related setbacks

    Involving the right experts from the outset is crucial. Without their insights, you might face design issues that slow regulatory approval. Collaborating with regulatory specialists early can help foresee and address these challenges, ensuring a smoother and importantly less costly approval process.

    A prime example is comprehending the impact of each element of your device’s design on regulatory approval. An additional feature, while desirable, might require its own set of bench tests, increasing both the cost and duration of your regulatory submission. Eliminating one or more such features early in development can lead to significant efficiency savings.

  • Inadequate data for regulatory approval

    Regulatory bodies have stringent requirements for product approvals, and the data supporting these applications is paramount. Not adequately preparing and collecting the necessary data can cause significant hurdles:

    Extended approval timelines
    Without the right data, the approval process can be prolonged as regulatory bodies might request additional information or clarifications, delaying market entry.

    Increased costs
    In cases where the data is deemed insufficient or not up to the required standards, you might need to conduct additional studies or trials. This not only increases costs but also consumes valuable time.

    Potential for rejection
    In the worst-case scenario, inadequate data can lead to outright rejection by regulatory bodies. This can be a major setback, requiring you to go back to the drawing board, re-evaluate your data collection strategies, and potentially make design changes to the product

    Engaging a regulatory specialist early in your commercial journey and preparing for every eventuality ensures a smoother path to regulatory approval. It’s also worth noting that regulations vary by region, so identifying the target countries for commercialisation is crucial at this initial planning stage.

  • Insufficient data for reimbursement

    Proper data, including health economics, is the backbone of reimbursement claims. Start-ups lacking the necessary data face barriers to market entry, often needing to initiate new clinical trials. This not only strains finances but also prolongs time-to-market. Wouldn’t it be better if this was all planned for at the beginning?

    Engaging a reimbursement specialist for your target region (or multiple specialists if expanding across various regions) ensures optimal data collection throughout your clinical development plan. Consequently, when presenting or compiling your comprehensive health economic or clinical efficacy data, you’ll already have initial patient data (or perhaps more) from earlier trials, conserving both time and budget.

  • Misaligned marketing claims

    Aligning marketing claims with market needs is vital. A misalignment can drastically limit market adoption as you cannot claim true differentiation from your competitors. This can be hugely frustrating as you know the potential benefits your device can offer but unless the data was collated in a way that satisfies your notified body, you cannot make the claim in your materials.

    This can result in a rush post-commercialisation to create this data which can be both costly and time-consuming.

    But that isn’t all. What about your future marketing claims? These should also have been planned from the start so that data from every patient treated moves you one step closer to a new claim, differentiating you further from your competitors.

    In summary, by ensuring you have planned how to collate comprehensive and accurate data from the outset, you can navigate the regulatory, reimbursement and marketing landscapes more effectively, reducing the risk of costly delays or rejections.

Looking for an agency that specialises in medical devices?

The value of the right team from the start

The initial stages of a MedTech start-up’s journey are often dominated by product development and funding efforts.

As a result, assembling the right team from the outset is frequently overlooked, primarily due to perceived cost implications.

However, this oversight can lead to significantly higher costs in terms of money, time, and company valuation down the line. In the intricate journey of MedTech commercialisation, the team you assemble can make or break your success. Here’s why involving the right professionals early on is paramount:

  • Marketing insights

    Marketing professionals ensure that your product’s claims align with its capabilities and resonate with the target market. They help position your product correctly, ensuring that when you reach commercialisation, you have the data needed to truly differentiate yourself.

  • Legal safeguards

    Legal experts ensure that your product doesn’t infringe on existing intellectual property. While competitors might overlook you initially, they won’t hesitate to take action as you gain traction. Early legal involvement can prevent costly litigations and redesigns.

  • Regulatory navigation

    Navigating the regulatory landscape requires expertise and precision. Regulatory professionals are adept at guiding start-ups through complex approval processes, ensuring products adhere to the standards set by relevant bodies.

    Beyond mere compliance, the right regulatory team can offer invaluable advice on structuring technical documents. This approach not only accelerates approval from notified bodies but also facilitates easier updates, keeping pace with product evolution and maintaining ongoing compliance.

  • Ensuring market access and reimbursement

    Specialists in market access and reimbursement ensure that the data you collect aligns with the requirements of your target geographies. Their insights can streamline approvals and ensure that your product is priced optimally. However, if the correct data has not been planned for at the start this may impact your technologies pricing or at best slow down its reimbursement pathway.

  • Clinical and health economics expertise

    These experts, sometimes from separate entities, provide a holistic view of the medical landscape. They can help you understand the current state of the art, guide on how your technology can impact patient pathways, and ensure efficient data collection throughout your journey to commercialisation.

    They’re in charge of creating your clinical development plan, with the support of regulatory, reimbursement and marketing teams, which should be your holy grail to success moving forward.

    In essence, involving the right experts from the outset not only streamlines the commercialisation process but also ensures that every decision made aligns with the end goal of market success.

The necessity of a robust clinical development plan

A well-structured clinical development plan is more than just a roadmap; it’s the foundation upon which successful commercialisation is built:

  • Future-proofing

    A comprehensive clinical development plan helps you anticipate and prepare for potential challenges. By envisioning the road ahead, you can make informed decisions that align with long-term goals.

  • Efficient data collection

    The right clinical development plan ensures that data collection is streamlined and purposeful. This precision reduces redundancy and ensures that every piece of data gathered adds value to the commercialisation journey.

  • Avoiding redundancy

    Without a clear plan, you risk collecting redundant or irrelevant data. This not only wastes resources but can also lead to misinformed decisions that hinder progress.

  • Guiding clinical trials

    A well-thought-out clinical development plan provides clarity on whether to conduct clinical trials in-house or collaborate with a clinical research organisation (CRO). This decision can influence the speed, cost, and quality of data collection.

Additional considerations for success

While the foundational elements like early planning, the right team, and a robust clinical development plan are crucial, there are other pivotal factors that you should consider:

  • Clinical data management

    A comprehensive clinical development plan helps you anticipate and prepare for potential challenges. By envisioning the road ahead, you can make informed decisions that align with long-term goals.

  • Understanding the competitive landscape

    Being aware of competitors and the broader market landscape is essential. This knowledge helps you position your products uniquely, anticipate market shifts, and adapt strategies accordingly.

  • Continuous feedback loop

    Commercialisation isn’t a one-time event but an ongoing process. Establishing a feedback loop with early adopters, clinicians, and other stakeholders can provide invaluable insights. This feedback can guide product refinements, marketing adjustments, and even influence future innovations.

  • Financial planning

    Beyond product development, you should ensure you have a sound financial strategy. This includes budgeting for unforeseen challenges, securing funding for various phases of development, and planning for market entry and expansion.

    In essence, while the journey to commercialisation is complex, a holistic approach that considers every part of the process can significantly enhance your chance of success.

Your Medtech commercialisation journey

Embarking on the MedTech commercialisation journey is no small feat.

Embarking on the MedTech commercialisation journey is no small feat.

It requires foresight, meticulous planning, the right expertise, and a comprehensive understanding of the market landscape.

By recognising potential pitfalls and addressing them early on, you can navigate this intricate path more efficiently. The key is to start early, remain informed, and ensure that every decision aligns with the overarching goal of successful commercialisation.

MedTech marketing with Podymos

Are you aiming to communicate more effectively with HCPs and patients? Do you aspire to deliver high-quality marketing campaigns as part of your broader multichannel marketing strategy? You’ve landed in the right place.

Podymos is a dedicated healthcare marketing agency, specialising in downstream Medical Device marketing. Our services might be a bit pricier than non-specialised agencies and freelance teams, and that’s because our exclusive focus on the medical device space equips us with specialised knowledge and expertise that others might not offer.

For compliant campaigns that align with your business objectives, we’re here to assist. Simply provide your contact details, and we’ll reach out promptly for a no-obligation discussion.

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