2/2015

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Full service: Innokas Medical is on their way to global markets

All too often, when medical professionals notice a need in their work, the path first to an idea and then to development is slow – contacts change, technologies age, and the rigorous process of medical technology development is not only precise but time-consuming. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to offer all the steps from a first draft of an idea to the finished product, including manufacturing. Innokas Medical taps directly into this, with mass production manufacturing lines in Kempele , Helsinki and Tallinn.

“Nowadays, an increasing amount of work needed to design new medical devices is related to software development. But we’re still very much also a hardware company in our DNA”, explains Executive VP Tommi Kaasalainen. With 200 employees (of which 100 in the headquarters in Kempele), the company is now starting to flex their muscles towards international markets. “Although we’ve entered markets outside Finland in a very concrete manner, the bulk of our sales is still from the domestic market.” This might soon change, however, as their three-year product development phase for a new kind of patient monitoring equipment is expected to start sales. “We’re a service provider, so we’re not going to sell it under our own brand”, Kaasalainen explains. Which sounds like a good thing: the client in question has global sales and distribution network which Innokas can leverage from day 1.

The long game pays off

It’s not exactly easy to get a medical tech product to the market. “Basically, the plans made ahead are not just guidelines – the deadlines are strict, the quality process is extremely detailed, and the three-tiered design process has to be followed to the letter.” In three separate processes, the idea goes through reviews until it reaches the production phase, in the end of which is the third and final design review before the product can be manufactured for shipping. The longest of these is the second phase, which includes software, electronics and mechanics design, and can last from six months to several years depending on the complexity of the product.

With wireless communication, many devices in the medical field offer automatic input to the data system. Innokas also recognizes the benefits in connected devices. “Wireless connections are integrated in almost every stage of a health care processes. This puts us in a good position, since Oulu is full of wireless technology talent, both in hardware and software.” Which in turn explains their plans: Kaasalainen explains, that in five years, they’re planning to expand with several offices, first in the Nordics, then elsewhere. “It’s harder to export services than products. We can’t just put an engineer in a container and ship him to Germany.”

Quality in location

When asked if the company has plans to relocate once it has grown enough, Tommi Kaasalainen perishes the thought. “Oulu region is probably one of the best in the world for technology R&D and product development when the price tag is compared with the quality of work. The talent is best of the best and there’s a steady talent pool of capable developers.” When comparing Oulu with similar locations in Sweden, Denmark or UK, he says “Oulu is the place where you get the best bang for the buck. Also, it’s easier to compete for high quality talent here. And of course, we do have regional clients as well.” All these factors combined, Oulu region is an excellent home base for Innokas Medical.

With good hype and approaching release, they’re growing steadily. A recruiting campaign is in the works, as need for experienced project managers and software engineers is increasing. “One problem in a strictly regulated technology field such as medical technology is the lack of regulative and industry-specific education.” That being said, he acknowledges that employees receive thorough training, and the job itself is a good teacher. It’s not necessary to find people who have been doing this specific thing before, but of course it would make things easier. But it’s not a hindrance if you haven’t worked in a medical tech company before.”

Innokas Medical

Innokas Medical is a Finnish contract design and manufacturing company which operates in the field of health technology, offering tailored and comprehensive service solutions in healthcare technology, from the idea phase to production of high-quality final products. Innokas Medical have their headquarters in Kempele, Finland, a manufacturing and engineering offices in Helsinki, and a manufacturing site in Tallinn.