Clinic business

From the lab to the clinic: sharing innovation and success


Our human body is designed to move: we can easily make fluid movements with over 360 joints and around 700 skeletal muscles inside of us.

However, sometimes people break their legs due to heavy sports or experience pain in their bones, joints and even spine due to improper use over a long period of time.

You go to see a doctor who recommends x-rays, a CT scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and during these procedures you are told not to move your body.

Have you ever wondered if these imaging methods are the best diagnostic tools for patients and clinicians?

Dr. Tsai Tsung-Yuan, an entrepreneur with a doctorate in biomedical engineering from a university in Taiwan and Imperial College London, wants to develop new methods.

He and his company, Shanghai TAOiMAGE Medical Technology Co, are using digital medical approaches to develop a system for assessing dynamic joint function.

With its digital biplanar x-ray imaging system, which can perform in vivo four-dimensional (4D) functional assessments of bones and joints, patients can achieve functional positioning and mobility during procedures.

From the lab to the clinic: sharing innovation and success

Ti Gong

The TAOiMAGE Digital Biplanar X-ray Imaging System

With this new technology, the impact of diseases on joint function will be truly quantified and clarified, Tsai told the Shanghai Daily.

It is the world’s first dual-plane, full-length 4D X-ray imaging system. Its 4D image reconstruction will help clinicians build tailored, patient-specific treatment plans, according to Tsai.

TAOiMAGE won awards as a member of biomedical growth team in the 10th China Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition.

Jointly organized by the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Education, the Cyberspace Administration of China and the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, the event has the most highest, largest scale and widest coverage. for the circle of innovation and entrepreneurship.

TAOiMAGE was selected from approximately 5,000 biomedical companies nationwide and was among 61 companies representing Shanghai to participate in the event.

From the lab to the clinic: sharing innovation and success

Ti Gong

TAOiMAGE has developed the world’s first dual-plane, full-length 4D X-ray imaging system.

“Boston is known as the Silicon Valley of biomedicine in the United States. I learned a lot about innovation and entrepreneurship there,” Tsai said.

He credits his Boston roommate, Dr. Wang Shaobai, who returned to Shanghai to advance his career, for encouraging him to start his business here, and academician Dai Kerong, who recruited him to do research in the best universities and tertiary hospitals in the area.

The two former roommates co-founded TAOiMAGE, and Tsai serves as its chief executive.

The other big selling points of Shanghai and the Greater Yangtze River Delta are the business-friendly government policies and the orthopedic and medical device cluster that exists here.

“Shanghai allows us to turn the digital medical technology we have developed in the lab into real products, so that doctors and frontline patients can benefit from these innovative products,” Tsai said.

From the lab to the clinic: sharing innovation and success

Ti Gong

Dr Tsai Tsung-Yuan (left) and Dr Wang Shaobai – co-founders of TAOiMAGE

More and more people with rich overseas academic and research experience, like Tsai and Wang, are returning to China from overseas to set up businesses and create local digital health innovations.

Established global players like Medtronic are noticing the rising tide of the digital health industry in China.

Medtronic chief executive Geoff Martha said the company’s competitors come from places like China, where venture capital and government support are readily available to help local businesses grow and compete. at the World level.

A leading global healthcare company for nearly 75 years, Ireland-based Medtronic is going beyond devices through a rebranding effort that emphasizes innovation.

Local tech startups and multinationals can complement each other in the innovation ecosystem, and in fact, they need each other, said TAOiMAGE’s Tsai.

Therefore, the local government builds platforms to facilitate better partnerships between the two.

The Medtronic Digital Health Innovation competition, initiated by the Shanghai Technology Innovation Center (STIC) and Medtronic China, is a perfect example.

Eight finalists made presentations to conference attendees and a six-judge panel of key opinion leaders from China’s medtech industry.

TAOiMAGE won first prize in the competition, credited for its dedication to the early detection, diagnosis and treatment of orthopedic conditions.

From the lab to the clinic: sharing innovation and success

Ti Gong

TAOiMAGE came first in the Medtronic Digital Health Innovation Competition.

Founded in 1988, STIC is a non-profit public science and technology service organization under the Shanghai Science and Technology Commission.

Dedicated to helping startups thrive and succeed, it is also a national high-tech innovation service center certified by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology.

The Medtronic Digital Health Innovation Competition is also one of the unique “Startup in Shanghai” activities, a flagship event designed to attract domestic and foreign entrepreneurs to set up businesses here.

“Biomedicine, along with integrated circuits and artificial intelligence, are the three key areas and major areas that Shanghai will prioritize during the 14th Five-Year Plan period,” said Huang Lihong, deputy director of STIC.

The competition, Huang added, is “a meaningful attempt” to foster local innovation by leveraging the experience and expertise of top companies in the global medtech industry.

Prior to the competition, Medtronic and STIC hosted a two-day innovation acceleration camp to provide in-depth guidance to startups on how to accelerate their products to market.

From the lab to the clinic: sharing innovation and success

Ti Gong

Huang Lihong, deputy director of the Shanghai Technology Innovation Center

The top three winners have the opportunity to discuss future cooperation with the Medtronic MedTech Innovation Accelerator, an early-stage business accelerator founded in Shanghai in 2019 to foster local medical technology innovation.

To date, three Chinese medical startups have signed contracts with the accelerator, according to Medtronic.

Additionally, the medical device giant has set up a China-focused venture capital fund.

“Five years ago, foreign colleagues asked us: “Is there really innovation in China?

“We don’t understand that anymore. Now the question is, what is the innovation in China? »

New medical solutions are emerging in technologies that address specific diseases with high incidence rates in China, cost-effective therapies that address high hospital throughput and patient volume, and innovative digital solutions that address diagnostics, treatments and disease management, according to Friedman.

For local entrepreneurs, Medtronic China said it can provide them with investment, sales channels, medical business capabilities, among others.

However, what might be more valuable is the company’s global expertise and resources, as some local companies look to future growth beyond China, Friedman said.

Over the past five years, Medtronic has invested more than US$300 million in China in more than 20 planned and initiated localization projects, most of which are in Shanghai, a city the company considers “one of the most innovative Chinese companies” in China. health care development.

From the lab to the clinic: sharing innovation and success

Ti Gong

Noah Friedman, Vice President of Strategy, Business Intelligence and Digital Market Development at Medtronic China

“As the world’s largest medtech company, Medtronic is far ahead of startups in terms of capital, technology, market channels and international experience,” Tsai said.

He added that he hopes that through partnerships with Medtronic, the speed of product development and implementation in innovative local companies can be accelerated and that “better synergistic effect” can be formed through organic collaboration. with Medtronic-related products.

TAOiMAGE’s first-generation product now has a medical device registration certificate and production license, and the company expects more than 10 sets of their digital biplanar ray imaging systems X are sold this year.

But their ambition goes beyond that.

The company plans to develop an artificial intelligence diagnostic system to reduce the learning curve of doctors and reduce the medical resource gap between regions.

“Clinical experience gained through medicine may be diminished or biased by memory or judgment, but the objective medical evidence stored in digital medicine will not be lost over time,” Tsai said.

For other tech startups looking to develop products and solutions to improve clinical care and health, his advice is to “be tightly integrated” with frontline clinical work and explore unmet clinical needs.

Tsai is also a tenured associate professor of biomedical engineering at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and a researcher at the Department of Orthopedics at Shanghai Ninth People’s Hospital.

He has published over 100 Science Citation Index articles and over 200 international conference papers.