AO Development Incubator

12. March 2018

Take your innovative idea to the next stage: third call for proposals now open

AODI Visual

Whether you are a surgeon with disruptive ideas for advancing patient care, or an experienced inventor looking to address clinical problems that have not yet been resolved, you will want to answer the AO Development Incubator’s (AODI) third call for proposals. The third call for proposals opens on March 12, 2018 and closes on May 3, 2018.

As part of the AO Foundation’s innovation engine, the AODI provides support for selected inventors to build and execute their projects toward a proof of concept and valorization, with the AO Foundation and the inventor sharing project development and generated value. 

Inventors are encouraged to bring their ideas, concepts, patent applications and research to the AODI, which supports approved projects by working with the inventor to secure intellectual property, pursue proof of concept and develop valorization plans over one to five years.

The AODI looks for innovations promoting excellence in the treatment of trauma and musculoskeletal disorders. Among the proposals submitted during the first two calls in 2017 were a wide range of inventions, from surgical instruments and implants, digital solutions to 3D printing projects.

​​ It is important to me that the funding and support we are ​providing will make a difference to improve patient outcomes."

Prof Dr Michael Schütz 

“This call for proposals is an exciting opportunity for young surgeons with innovative ideas—like digitization, which hasn’t reached into the operating room to the extent that it will in 10–20 years’ time—as well as experienced surgeons looking to address unresolved problems they see in their practices,” says Prof Dr Michael Schütz, AODIB Chair. "It’s important to me that the funding and support we are providing will make a difference to improve patient outcomes.”

Schütz added that “we only have a few guidelines for applicants: concepts should be patent protected or not yet published. After we receive all proposals, we screen them according to our guidelines, narrow the pool down to those that meet our requirements, and create our first shortlist.”

Proposals are considered by the AODI’s board of experts, including representatives from the worlds of trauma and musculoskeletal treatment as well as industry.

Distinct benefits for shortlisted projects

Inventors that are shortlisted by the AODI are asked to sign confidentiality agreements and are invited to present their projects to the AODI board in confidential, face-to-face roundtable sessions—an opportunity that offers distinct benefits, even for those projects not ultimately chosen for AODI support.

“This discussion prepares applicants to adjust their projects as needed and, if their proposals are not the right fit for the support provided by the AODI, we may be able to suggest other directions or resources to help them move forward,” he says. “On the other hand, if we receive a proposal for something close to our primary industrial partner’s domain, which the AODI cannot support, we will ask the applicant whether we should forward his or her proposal to the AOTK System for consideration.”

Applicants whose projects are approved are assigned a mentor and milestones are spelled out, Schütz says.

“We hope that, when feasible and depending on the inventors’ requirements, ongoing steps should be done with the AO Research Institute to use our own infrastructure,” he says. “We do expect milestones to be met, and projects’ progress is measured against the milestone dates set out after approval.”

Ultimately, Schütz explains, the AODI is an opportunity for inventors to take critical steps toward applying their ideas to advance patient care. A next step after incubation with AODI could be, for example, AO Invest​, which invests in start-ups that can make a significant contribution to advancing patient care through innovative medical products and services applied in orthopedic and trauma surgery.

Expanding the AO’s innovation potential

“The bottom line is, we would like to care for the injured patient. From its founding 60 years ago, the AO Foundation has done this by standardizing operating procedures and making them easier to apply with technologies. Throughout our history, most of our ideas have come from our network of surgeons and researchers,” he says. The AODI expands the AO’s innovation potential by opening up support to the world and beyond the internal fixation devices for which the AO Foundation and its primary industrial partner have become so highly respected.

“Our AO network of surgeons—the largest in the world—is invaluable to inventors because it can play an important role in whether innovations become accepted and successful.” says Schütz.

More information can be found on the AODI website including details about the application process and guidelines​​