Innovation in medical technology for minimally invasive surgery: IP design as a leadership tool at W.O.M.

W.O.M. is the world leader in some areas of minimally invasive surgery. The company is a typical hidden champion in Germany. In the field of minimally invasive medicine, W.O.M. develops devices and accessories to enable doctors to operate with small incisions. The company develops and produces cameras, insufflators, medical pumps, and tubing, which simplify and facilitate diagnosis and treatment.

Quality and reliability are the strongest assets of W.O.M. As a leading worldwide manufacturer, the quality proposition of “Made in Germany” is a key success factor in global markets. Together with customers and partners from its medical network, W.O.M. searches for the best solutions in medical technology.

W.O.M. has been awarded several accolades for innovation, with the European Innovation Impact Award for Healthcare already being the second high-profile innovation award received by the company in 2017 after its success at TOP 100 innovators awards. Innovation is a key success factor for W.O.M.’s growth and market position. W.O.M.’s innovation management integrates the requirements and visions of the company’s customers and OEM partners with its own technical capabilities. IP design was introduced at WOM in order to generate IP based on the company’s business model and proposed customer benefit. Against this backdrop, IP design primarily serves the purpose of gaining a better understanding of customers’ viewpoints and deriving a more precise understanding of customer benefits from it. The USPs along the economic levers in the business model identified in this way are subsequently patented in order to obtain an IP portfolio consisting of exclusive, sustainable, and defensible competitive advantages. IP design helps W.O.M. to make IP generation controllable. In addition, results are predictable, and employees can focus on their creativity on superior customer benefits and on the value levers within the business model.

The authors of this case study:

Stefan Kürbis

Stefan Kürbis is Senior Vice President for Global HR and Innovation Management at W.O.M. WORLD OF MEDICINE GmbH (W.O.M.). In 1991, he began his career at W.O.M. in the technical documentation department. From 2009 to 2016, he was Vice President Global Marketing. In 2013, he founded W.O.M. WORLD OF MEDICINE ASIA Ltd. in Hong Kong and was Executive Director for 3 years. In July 2016, he was appointed Senior VP Global HR and Innovation Management. In 2004, he was founding member and remained spokesperson of medtecnet-BB (Berlin-Brandenburg) until 2009. Since 2013, he has been Chairman of the Expert Group Medical Technology BB (Berlin-Brandenburg). Stefan Kürbis is also initiator and organizer of the annual ‘Trends in Minimally Invasive Medicine’ symposium.

Prof. Dr. Alexander J. Wurzer

Dr. Wurzer is Adjunct Professor for IP Management at the Center for International Intellectual Property Studies (Centre d’Etudes Internationales de la Propriété Industrielle, CEIPI) at the University of Strasbourg, where he has been Director of Studies for the Master’s degree in Intellectual Property Law and Management (MIPLM) since 2007. Prof. Dr. Wurzer is Director of the Steinbeis Transfer Institute for Intellectual Property Management at Steinbeis University Berlin. He is Managing Partner at WURZER & KOLLEGEN GmbH, a consulting firm specializing in strategic IP management.

Prof. Dr. Wurzer is Chairman of DIN committees DIN 77006 for quality in IP management and DIN 77100 for patent valuation. He is a member of the Board of Directors of “Deutsches Institut für Erfindungswesen e.V.” (DIE), Spokesman of the Board of Trustees awarding the Diesel Medal and Fellow at the Alta Scuola Politecnica at Milan/Turin Polytechnic. He is also a jury member for the 2018 German Innovation Award of the German Design Council and a member of the group of experts of the European Commission.

MIPLM Case Study W.O.M.

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