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External Partnerships Fuel Innovation

Cummins, which designs, manufactures, and distributes engines, filtration, and power generation products, is 180 degrees different from BD, which is in the medical device industry. So just what were some of the key takeaways focused on innovation from such a diverse session partnership?

Agdeppa discovered that despite the companies’ differences, they were expounding on the same themes. “It was really a validation that if we look externally, we’re still having the same approaches of understanding the greatest customer needs. How do we motivate our teams around innovating in new spaces that are unfamiliar to our leadership? And so there’s a technical aspect. There’s the clinical need aspect for us. And for them, it’s their trucking and power systems’ needs. But at the end of the day, how do we get our stakeholders on board, and it was a wonderful discussion teasing that out,” he says.

Looking externally from within the innovation discipline in the organization to outside the company generated its own benefits, noted Agdeppa.

Agdeppa notes, “So within a large corporation like BD, it is looking at other business groups that are not dealing with catheters or needles or syringes, but looking beyond in terms of those that are not making disposables, but are making durable medical goods. But it’s also looking beyond the four walls of the company. So, insights on how other industries are looking at, let’s say, sustainability. We’re still on that journey, and our customers are as well. But other industries are more mature in terms of how they are looking at sustainability as a driver for their strategy, for instance.”

That cross disciplinary, cross industry approach to innovation has always been there. But it feels like it is absolutely necessary at this moment.

“I think it’s absolutely necessary,” Agdeppa agrees. “We can’t invent by ourselves, and given the speed of innovation in any industry, we need to look elsewhere to get that jump start. And I think we haven’t fully realized that, until COVID hit us, and we had to develop products in three months as opposed to three years. We had to address an immediate clear and present danger within a few weeks as opposed to a couple of years or within five years, ten years. So it was definitely a kick in the pants in terms of COVID. The one good thing coming out of it is how do we reach out to others to accelerate our development? And how do we sustain that moving forward?”

What advice would Agdeppa share at this current economic time, in this year of uncertainty? He observes, “I think it’s still taking that step back, but having a different lens in terms of the one offs with COVID, the one offs with supply chain issues, the one offs with just the current financial lending issues. That will pass us, and we’re getting to a point later this year and moving forward that get back to basics. How do we grow in the long term? As opposed to being reactionary. I would turn that around and say, sure, take that step back, but go back to what you were doing before and enhancing that in terms of a long-term vision as opposed to being reactionary to all of those external forces that are just pounding us.”

It is not coincidental that, despite the waning of the virus, disruption in the marketplace is consistent and constant. What trends does Agdeppa see in the medical device industry?

Agdeppa says, “One example in our industry is the virtualization of care. Because of the need to keep distance from patients, whether you’re in the unit in the hospital or keeping them at home, the at-home piece and caring in the community, that is not going to change because COVID is over. It is here to stay and we have to figure out how we learn from other industries in terms of virtualization, how we use telemedicine, how we use the phones that we have in place. I think there is an opportunity for us to look forward to some disruptions, for other industries that can help us actually sustain caring for our patients, given what we’ve learned from COVID.”

Check out the full video from FEI for the conversation between Adler and Agdeppa, as they discuss themes such as resilience, transformation, agility, the outlook for the rest of the year, and more.


  • Seth Adler

    Seth Adler heads up All Things Insights & All Things Innovation. He has spent his career bringing people together around content. He has a dynamic background producing events, podcasts, video, and the written word.

  • Matt Kramer

    Matthew Kramer is the Digital Editor for All Things Insights & All Things Innovation. He has over 20 years of experience working in publishing and media companies, on a variety of business-to-business publications, websites and trade shows.


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