Many people like to talk about their white papers… and so do we. The Hemafuse, Sisu Global Health’s premiere product, was published this past fall in the International Journal of Gynecology Obstetrics. A huge honor that we are very excited about, as it adds more credibility to the technology behind our device. This important step forward in our progress was needed, however, it doesn’t mean the same to all of our stakeholders.
The debate about the need for published articles centers around the abyss between academia, industry and, well, the rest of the world.
Sisu’s main innovations have all spun out of the academic powerhouse of University of Michigan, but as we progress into seeking industrial connections, our clean tech transfer and removal from the University has actually helped us in the long run. Though many manufacturers and designers like the fact that we have previously had the backing of an institution- they usually sigh in relief when they realize our independence from the Big House.
This is not to say that the resources that universities offer are not significant. Many have environments that favor the cutting edge research that many companies can’t replicate. But once a piece of technology needs to expand- into manufacturing, scaling sales and beyond- many universities seem to gradually fade. Programming may exist in each of these disciplines, but few programs have mastered how to advance technology from basic prototype to autonomous business.
This all begins with the information surrounding cutting edge research. Articles (including this one) often require fees for access to individual articles or large databases. Academia claims that publishing articles is complete outreach to the public…after you pay the fee. This hits the hardest in the international education community where students may not have access to these expensive databases.
While the academia can’t really claim public outreach with their restricted articles, fees to access reports are a part of the medical device field (see the cost of the CE Mark’s annually updated report) for both industry and research. These are built-in costs that companies plan into their budgets, but few individual (think about college students at Makarere in Uganda or the University of Ghana) plan or are able to purchase peer-reviewed research articles. These articles that keep companies and students on the cutting edge of their technology and market; creating barriers to this information inhibits everyone.
Our article in the International Journal for Gynecology Obstetrics is exciting, but some of that excitement is dulled. Many of our major stakeholders, doctors in the developing world, and those we hope to inspire, young people particularly women and minorities, may not have the chance to read the article. We hope that some of these barriers to information can be broken and we can continue to move away from “white tower” stereotype.