Although pop culture likes to mythologize the idea of the lone visionary grinding away in a lab until they reach their “Eureka!” moment, the reality is that big ideas are more often brought to life through collaboration. On this episode of Mastering Innovation on SiriusXM Channel 132, Business Radio Powered by The Wharton School, we speak with James Lewis, co-founder and CEO of 11|TEN Innovation Partners. His organization brings together established and early-stage partner companies to share R&D efforts and accelerate the development of new technologies, particularly related to healthcare. Lewis spoke about the hurdles that make such collaboration difficult, from legal and regulatory challenges, to intellectual property concerns, to finding ways for potential competitors to share incentives and risks.
An excerpt of the interview is transcribed below. Listen to more episodes here.
Saikat Chaudhuri: That name, 11|TEN, what does that stand for?
James Lewis: We get a lot of questions about that. 11|TEN is one plus one equals 10, because we really believe that true impact and true co-creation have to be done collaboratively, and that everybody can function better together. So, 11|TEN is a play on “one plus one equals 10.” The old thing of “one plus one equals three,” we kind of took that to the next level.
Chaudhuri: Love it. Give me an example of some of the organizations you’re partnering with. I love how you set it all up, and how you really want to unlock the potential of these firms by working with them, but it sounds like in very novel ways. Give me an example of a project that you’ve done.
Lewis: The way we set it up is that folks join our program in a consortium and there’s a shared budget for identifying problems and opportunities, then engineering solutions to those opportunities. We bring everyone together so that these organizations can work collaboratively. Instead of forming an ad hoc solution, we’re forming comprehensive solutions that make an impact from day one.
Some of the companies we’re working with are Sharecare, which is a digital wellness platform based here in Atlanta. They’ve made a huge impact on government insurance and self-insured employers. We have Cerner, the large EMR company; Stryker, the device company; Konica Minolta; Novo Nordisk; and Philips. These are just some of the ones we are working with.
If you talk about an example of how all those things fit together, when you think of Konica Minolta, traditionally they’re not one of the big names in medicine, but they’re really one of the major innovators in imaging. What we’ve done with them is taken their x-ray technology and helped them create an x-ray in motion. And we placed the first x-ray in motion technology into the orthopedics organization and are now exploring ways that they can take those moving x-rays and start to build in intelligence to predict things like joint replacement and wear and tear. As you can imagine, other partners in the program are interested in that.
“We bring everyone together so that organizations can work collaboratively. Instead of forming an ad hoc solution, we’re forming comprehensive solutions.” — James Lewis
There’s really three ways we engage these partners. We build them an R&D roadmap for research projects, we help them partner with early-stage companies to accelerate that development, and then we incubate new technologies. Just in the past 12 months, we’ve worked between two of the partners to incubate a new imaging platform that uses artificial intelligence to size implantable devices. What are the implications of that? If you take brain aneurysms today, roughly 20% to 30% of the stents and the flow diverters they put in are the wrong size, and so there’s an immense cost to the system for sizing those and placing those. We brought some of the imaging technology in the program and some of the device players in our program, and we built a platform that uses intelligence to isolate the region of the brain that needs the implantable. We then scale that against the inventory. We had to build that algorithm for sizing. We have a pipeline of about 20 different projects and about three-fourths of those incorporate more than one partner on the project.
Chaudhuri: A couple of important insights that I want to draw for our listeners: It really reminds me of the Mack Institute, that you can get so much power out of an entire network working on different problems. And the second is that, in terms of my writing and research, external sources of innovation are powerful. All these companies have great R&D departments, but it’s important to sometimes work with external parties (whether a startup or an ecosystem of other sorts), or outsource some of the work, or engage with you in some form, in order to stay on the cutting edge. You don’t have to do everything yourself.
Lewis: I think that’s a good point. We think external innovation is key. We always say we’re leveraging the power and the resources of these ecosystems so that everybody can innovate externally and collaboratively. Especially in healthcare, one of the big things we see is that these corporations are doing a lot of cool R&D. They are spending a lot of money building the next generation of technology, but adoption and usability of these technologies is really difficult. And so, we created a user-friendly, efficient way for these companies to engage with industry and with academia, so that they don’t build these new solutions in a vacuum. They build them with the end-user in mind so that they are validated and can be adopted from day one. In some industries, that certainly seems novel, but in healthcare, that has made a big impact. We’ve been able to accelerate a lot of things that did not exist before in a short period of time.
About Our Guest
James Lewis is a passionate, 30-year-old mission-driven CEO and entrepreneur with an innate curiosity on how to continuously improve the way consumers interact with products and services that can positively impact the wellbeing of humans and businesses into the future.
To enable that mission, James co-founded and leads 11|TEN Innovation Partners as CEO where he and his team partner with Fortune 500 companies and high-potential startups to minimize innovation risk, accelerate growth, and ultimately future-proof businesses.
Today, James and his team at 11|TEN oversee the direction and operation of the Emory Healthcare Innovation Hub (EHIH). For EHIH, they incubate, pilot and commercialize new solutions between health care and technology partners to improve the evolving health and wellness needs of patients and providers.