As part of a continuing series on Fall 2015 semester courses that relate to innovation and business law, this post spotlights the Iowa Medical Innovation Group

The Noddle is a medical device that allows bedridden patients who cannot speak or have impaired motor skills to more easily call for a nurse or adjust the temperature of their room. In the past year, Iowa Adaptive Technologies, the start-up company that designed the Noddle, has competed successfully in business plan competitions and received tens of thousands of dollars in seed money to continue developing the Noddle. Both Iowa Adaptive Technologies and the Noddle originated in the Iowa Medical Innovation Group (IMIG), a multidisciplinary course for students interested in learning more about how innovation works.

IMIG is a year-long course that organizes students into five- to eight-person teams. Each team includes students from the colleges of business, engineering, medicine, and law. Teams select product ideas submitted by University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics staff. Teams then create a plan to develop and market the product. “The law students’ role is primarily to do the preliminary patent research,” said Professor Herbert Hovenkamp, the law school’s faculty representative in the group.

Although there are no prerequisite courses, law students must pass an interview with Hovenkamp to participate. Once students are placed into teams, IMIG becomes a student-directed course. “The faculty that are involved consult and supervise” rather than lecture, added Hovenkamp.

Samantha Miller, graduated in May 2015 with a dual JD-MBA degree, participated in IMIG during the 2012-2013 school year. Her group worked on an oximeter, a device that measures oxygen levels in the blood. The two most common types of oximeters make tradeoffs between accuracy and invasiveness. The less invasive the device, the less accurate the readings become. Miller and her group worked on a device that eliminated that tradeoff.

“IMIG gave me a holistic view of the medical device industry: from design to intellectual property to raising capital,” explained Miller, who went on to work for a summer in the marketing department of Baxter International, a biotechnology healthcare company. “My IMIG experience really strengthened my resume,” she added.

--Jay Stirling | April 7, 2015

Course Description

The Iowa Medical Innovation Group is an interdisciplinary seminar taught by faculty members from the Colleges of Law, Medicine, Engineering, and Business. Over the year a team of students from these four colleges, with at least one law student on each team, will observe medical procedures and interview surgical and other medical personnel, originate an idea for a medical device; design it and produce figures or, if possible, a prototype; do all necessary reports on patentability and, if appropriate, draft a patent application; design a business model for marketing it, together with the required legal documents, which may include both entity documents and licensing documents. Students will be expected to participate to some degree in all aspects of project development, although the principal obligation of law students will be procurement of necessary intellectual property rights, business association documents, contracts, and licensing agreements. Enrollment is strictly limited each year and will be determined by the number of teams that the four Colleges are able to field. All law student writing components must meet minimum length requirement to be submitted to the College of Law faculty member(s) and will require a rewrite before they are eligible for a grade. Follow this link for IMIG information from the Tippie College of Business perspective.

Schedule Information