The Ask the CAMTech Expert series features voices from CAMTech’s diverse community of global health experts and thought leaders who share their knowledge, experience and resources to those working in medtech innovation. Today, we’re talking with Anurag Asthana, the Global R&D Director for Medtronic (Minneapolis, USA) with over two decades of business experience and 14 years working in the healthcare industry. As an expert in organizational leadership and relationship building with external customers and stakeholders, Mr. Asthana talks to CAMTech about the concept of shared value and the benefits of collaboration between industry and non-profits to achieve widespread public health impact.
‘Shared value’ is a term that has been increasingly used to describe how industry works with non-profits to create business gains while simultaneously making important contributions to the community. Where do you see ‘shared value’ opportunities related to global health innovation?
Shared value initiatives offer meaningful opportunities and benefits for both industry and non-profits in the global health sector. While it can be difficult at first, this type of collaboration allows companies to identify societal and public health challenges that intersect with their business needs and goals. At the same time, it helps non-profits access the tools and resources they need to expand their societal impact. It’s important to note that shared value initiatives require a long-term investment – the benefits of these partnerships may not be immediate or realized right away.
However, if companies commit toward an end-goal, the overall impact can be tremendous. Shared value initiatives also help companies build goodwill and trust amongst the global health community. These projects allow corporations to move away from the status-quo reputation of manipulating profit gains by showing their commitment and support for innovative technologies that make health care more affordable and accessible. In addition, they encourage companies to establish impactful business solutions to social and public health problems that have far-reaching impact. By working together, we can revolutionize the way we achieve both economic and societal success.
Emerging and developing markets present major growth opportunities for medtech multinationals, but their complexity requires different business models, products and approaches. How can shared value initiatives help industry realize the potential of these markets?
The cost-sharing nature of shared value initiatives helps expand healthcare access to a wider pool of people. Furthermore, by developing joint programs to establish markets around current and future therapies, we can bring greater awareness to critical healthcare challenges. The partnership between Tata Sons and GE Healthcare is one example. Once these joint efforts become successful, their profits can be re-invested to develop low-cost solutions that in effect will help generate more revenue from the lower segments of the healthcare pyramid. This creates a cycle of growth and reinvestment that spurs frugal innovations.
What are some key strategies and building blocks required for creating successful shared value partnerships in medtech innovation?
I think that strong leadership (on both sides) and an open culture of collaboration and innovation are critical in order to build successful shared value partnerships, especially in the global health medtech space. Multinational corporations (MNCs) must be open to creative ideas and look at interdependence as a source of opportunity and long-term benefit. There has to be a willingness to look beyond quarterly financial results for proof of value because it can take longer to get there, but it’s absolutely worth it.
Non-profits and MNCs who have formed successful partnerships must highlight their achievements through conferences and workshops that can teach others how to launch similar shared value partnerships. I think this would also help prove that companies can still thrive (financially and economically) while doing meaningful work and contributing to the greater good.
What are some areas that non-profits can look to industry for help in the health sector?
Non-profits can look to industry to develop a better understanding of customer needs, as well as the rigor involved in product and business model development.
In what ways does industry look to non-profits to complement existing capabilities?
Industry can leverage non-profits’ community networks to promote new medtech solutions and standards of care, as well as to generate support that’s needed for market development.
What are some of the challenges that may arise during these partnerships? And where have you seen shared value partnerships not succeed?
Revenue sharing and IP rights can create challenges, especially when it comes to product ownership. Shared value partnerships won’t work if either side lacks commitment or a true desire to work together –attitude is key. Non-profits and industry must hold a united vision that’s clearly communicated and followed.
Achieving results and seeing real public health impact takes time, patience and an incredible amount of hard work – with the stock market watching closely, how can multinationals invest for the long-term and demonstrate to shareholders the importance of shared value initiatives?
As a first step, MNCs and non-profits might consider launching pilot projects to source low-cost products or solutions that tackle specific health challenges. These could serve as case studies to highlight the importance and benefit of shared value partnerships and would involve outlining the complete return on investment, as well as the overall impact on net present value and clinical outcomes.
About the Expert
Anurag Asthana is the Global R&D Director for Medtronic (Minneapolis, USA) with over two decades of business experience and 14 years working in the healthcare industry. In 2011, he founded the company’s Research and Development Engineering Services Center in Hyderabad, India. Since then, the Center has grown to over 200 employees, provides global engineering support to all business units, and runs turnkey New Product Development projects for Indian, Emerging and Global Markets.
Mr. Asthana is active in government affairs and has participated in various policy discussions in India and the U.S. through AmCham India. He was also invited to a meeting with a delegation led by Nancy Pelosi during President Obama’s visit to India. He holds two Masters of Science degrees, one in Electrical Engineering from the University of Louisville and a second in Reliability Engineering from the University of Maryland. He also holds an MBA from Colorado State University and an Advanced Executive Management Certificate from Wharton Business School.