Hong Kong Enterprise introduces Ultrasound-guided percutaneous biopsy simulation system for the Beijing 301 Hospital
Recently, many companies involved in intellectual property trade to upgrade their businesses. One of the examples includes a life science company in Hong Kong introducing researches from different universities, and launching the Ultrasound-guided percutaneous biopsy simulation system. The simulation system provides a more precise medical training for different surgeries. Relevant products have been used by the Beijing 301 Hospital and the Prince of Wales Hospital in Hong Kong.
Started business in 2011, Dracaena LifeTech is a software technology company focused on research, development and manufacturing medical simulated solutions and products based on computer-based virtual reality. The company's technology can effectively reduce the risks of patients’ under the learning process of traditional medicine practice, and improve cost-effectiveness in the clinical training process.
Dracaena LifeTech technical director said the company's flagship product iSonoSim is a simulator used to practice skills of using needle under ultrasound image guidance. It provides an objective list of operating parameters for each exercise with a comprehensive and detailed evaluation, so doctors would have a better grasp of clinical skills after practicing with the simulator.
"Without such simulator, doctors use real person or plastic doll for training. The simulator’s contact surface is very close to real person which helps improving the safety standards. The simulators have now been used by Beijing 301 Hospital and Prince of Wales Hospital in Hong Kong."
The core software of iSonoSim is adopted through intellectual property trading with local universities. Tsui stated that he was a student of that university, and he participated in the project development. When he realized that there is an opportunity to commercialize the technology, he asked for university’s permission to license the technology to conduct his own business. He then further developed the technology into Ultrasound-guided percutaneous biopsy simulation product. This technology can also be applied to other non-ultrasound simulation system, for example virtual acupuncture training system, and explore a whole new market of medical simulation system. “We expect that one or two products that are based on existing intellectual property can be launched early next year. It will provide training for different ultrasound procedures including amniocentesis and thyroid access.”
He disclosed that the iSonoSim is priced from HKD500,000 to HKD1,000,000 dollars, depending on the number of systems and the complexity of application software contained in the iSonoSim. The company attends different seminars or medical conference in Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan to further explore the overseas markets through intermediaries. In addition, the company also participates in various exhibitions including the Hong Kong International Medical Devices and Supplies Fair organised by HKTDC. It helps the company to attract interested distributors from Southeast Asia and South America, paving the way for entering into overseas markets.
Tsui stated that for startup companies similar to his company, it is risky to allocate excessive amount of resources for R&D due to the limited capital from newly established companies. It is important to strike a balance between own R&D and purchasing licenses. He also highlighted that if the technology is relatively advanced, and there is not much relevant software patents or copyrights in the market, it is better to have their own R&D. For example, his company has successfully applied for a SME development fund named SERAP from the Hong Kong Government's Innovation and Technology Commission to develop a “radiofrequency ablation tumor therapy simulation system”, which is completely new to the market. The system will then be launched last year.
He added that R & D requires a lot of manpower and resources. Referring to the ultrasound-guided percutaneous core software detection technology, the University has spent five years and employed several graduate students to complete the R&D process. Instead, purchasing a license directly, coupled with development can speed up the process of entering into the market.
At present, the company has a total of seven doctoral students responsible for research work and cooperates with different universities and medical consultants. He said that in future the company is committed to R & D various surgical simulation systems, which makes up the deficiencies of the existing methods of surgical education and training, and the development of these systems will become the standard for future doctors and training. To achieve this goal, the parallel development in both having their own R & D and purchasing individual patent or copyright is essential to respond to the needs of the market.
In addition, the company also plans to acquire different technologies such as regional anesthesia simulation, endovascular simulation, and then integrates the newly acquired technology or further develops their own R&D technology to invent new virtual medical training systems for epidural, radio-frequency ablation and others; thus diversifying their product lines with the newly developed products to effectively improve the company’s businesses.
With a wide range of professional services in Hong Kong, and the ability to contact with both the Mainland China market and the world market, Hong Kong will gradually grow as the intellectual property business center in the region. Tsui said that Hong Kong has a rapid pace of circulating information, which is an excellent trading platform for tangible and intangible goods including intellectual property rights. “We could see various local universities and research institutions (eg. ASTRI) who have set up a database of intellectual property rights. It allows the industry to check the latest tradable intellectual properties for technology transfer. Hong Kong's sound legal system also helps intellectual property exchange. Another advantage of Hong Kong is the government support for research co-operation. For example, our company participated in the Hong Kong Science Park Technology Business Incubation Programme (incuTech) in March this year. The programme provided fifty percent of the technology transfer matching grants for the emerging enterprises to speed up the establishment of a more robust technology foundation,” said Tsui.
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