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Interview

Fellows Institut Guttmann 2017
Nico Facuri, Enrique Hernández and Sara Hernández

Neoros team. Fellows in d·HEALTH Barcelona 2017 that did their clinical immersion at Institut Guttmann.

“After the clinical immersion, innovating makes much more sense”

25.05.2017

They’re wearing lab coats but they aren’t doctors. Nico Facuri is an engineer, Sara Hernández and Enrique Hernández are biotechnologists. They’ve spent two months at Institut Guttmann, a rehabilitation hospital in Barcelona, on a clinical immersion to identify unmet clinical needs. And now they are going to select one and develop an innovative solution to resolve it, like a medical device for example. These three d·HEALTH Barcelona fellows told us about their experience in the biodesign program promoted by Biocat.

 

With d·HEALTH Barcelona, you experience a full innovation cycle that starts in the hospital identifying unmet clinical needs. What were the results of this phase?

Sara Hernández: We’ve spent time with professionals throughout the hospital (physical therapists, nurses, physicians, speech therapists, psychologists) and we’ve realized that they have very different viewpoints. This has helped us see where we can find our niche. One example was the difference between ward nurses and home nurses. We’re more interested in what the home nurses have to say because all of the patients will leave the hospital at some point and we can find an opportunity there. 

Nico Facuri: Observation is very important. The clinical immersion was a period to help us understand everything and allowed us to take a lot in. We detected 400 needs, but we’ve also taken away the feelings we had there and put into writing. This has prepared us to understand the market, come up with a well-crafted value proposition and create a company. That’s plan A.  

What type of value proposition are you thinking about?

Nico Facuri: We realized that our innovative solution has to be very convincing if we want to implement it and have professionals use it. 

Sara Hernández: In many cases, there are solutions that exist but don’t fully cover the need. We have to think of something intuitive, simple and user-friendly.

Nico Facuri: We know we’re designing for them, not for us. We’d like to come up with a spectacular wearable but we have to think about the people who are going to use it. There are innovations that never reach users because the set-up is too complicated to use. 

An added value of the clinical immersion is that you can get a first-hand look at the people your development will affect. 

Sara Hernández: Exactly. For example, I used to work in research and the thing is that you don’t see quick results. Sometimes 20 or 30 years can pass before something is developed from your work. Here, however, you see things and it’s up to you to change them. We can help people directly and that’s a huge motivation.

Do you have entrepreneurial spirit?

Enrique Hernández: Since we started the clinical immersion, our mindset has changed. Now we walk down the street and identify needs everywhere. I don’t know if we’re entrepreneurs yet, but at least we have critical spirit.

Nico Facuri: The immersion goes beyond the hospital. You see things you’d never have stopped to look at before. Plus, it’s a very fast process. I founded my other company with my partner and we spent six months doing research. Here, in a month and a half you’re done.

Is teamwork complicated?

Sara Hernández: I was very closed off the first week because I don’t feel sure of myself when I’m not in control. But I’ve realized that I can’t control this. Nico has taught me to go with the flow and now I’m more focused on the team and trust them completely.

Nico Facuri: The creation process is chaotic and uncontrolled. We don’t know what is going to happen or whether it will go any further. But you have to believe and push forward.

Enrique Fernández: All three of us are flexible and want to learn. We’ve adapted well to working as a team.

What is the most important lesson you’ll take with you from your stay at the hospital?

Enrique Fernández: The patients’ capacity to recover and grow. We weren’t aware of this. We came here thinking it would be dull and sad and we were very pleasantly surprised. They have a great fighting spirit. Looking for an innovative solution makes much more sense now.