University of Minnesota


Earl E. Bakken
Medical Devices Center

About the Fellows Program

2018-19 Innovation Fellows Team

2019-20 Innovation Fellows Team

Danny Sachs (Co-Director), David Nedrelow, Darshan Krishnappa, Sanjay Dhawan, Marge Hartfel (Co-Director), Enio Perez, Molly Kaissar, Mihai Duduta, Riazul Islam (l-r)

The Earl E. Bakken Medical Devices Center Innovation Fellows Program is a full immersion educational and product development program for medical device creation.

September 2008 marked the beginning of the inaugural class of the Innovation Fellows Program. Initially, the University chose four fellows following a nationwide search process. The team has since increased to eight due to a generous donation from the Frank J. and Eleanor E. Maslowski Charitable Trust. This cross-disciplinary team, consisting of postgraduate engineers, seasoned medical device professionals, bioscientists and physicians, collaborates in medical device production and development for one year.

The Innovation Fellows Program concentrates on developing medical devices for a broad variety of clinical areas. The goal is to train the next leaders in medtech by fostering leadership and teaching risk management for medical devices. The Bakken MDC teaches the Innovation Fellows disciplined product development which includes FDA Requirements, Insurance Reimbursement, Intellectual Property and Business Strategies in addition to Creativity Techniques and Prototyping.

The Innovation Fellows spend their first few weeks in a series of Educational Rotations presented by thought leaders in the College of Science & Engineering, Medical School, Health Sciences, law firms, surrounding med-tech industry, venture capitalists and angel investors. They then spend a few weeks in a period of Clinical Immersion, where they put on scrubs and stand on the periphery of operating rooms and clinics and observe MD’s, nurses, and associated technicians at work.

After collecting unmet clinical needs, they will define the problem from all angles, using clinical literature as a guide. The Innovation Fellows will also work with UMN faculty collaborators from both engineering and medicine and interface with University technology transfer and licensing groups. They will innovate around unmet clinical needs for the duration of the fellowship. This includes multiple sets of prototyping cycles and bench top testing.

In addition, the Innovation Fellows teach, share and learn by mentoring undergraduate and graduate student design teams from across the College of Science & Engineering, support the Design of Medical Devices Conference, and interact with the College of Design's Product Design Program.

The Earl E. Bakken Medical Devices Center provides a unique environment with extensive prototyping equipment, support staff and interface with the Fairview University Hospital, located across the street. Our Innovation Fellow sponsors are offered preferred access to both the new facilities and to novel new intellectual property.

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