BY SUE WILSON
New MILI Affiliates Program is Building Social and Professional Networks
David Edgerton, ’05 MBA, graduated before the Medical Industry Leadership Institute (MILI) at the Carlson School was launched. But Edgerton, an IT senior project manager at the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), has found a way to connect with MILI today. He joined the MILI Affiliates program last year to strengthen his connection to the Carlson School, build a network with the “powerhouse” companies in health care, and gain a broader industry perspective. To further boost his involvement, he is now a member of the program’s newly formed executive board.
“The MILI Affiliates program puts executives, physicians, students, and academic leaders in touch with the latest trends in health care and connects them with MILI’s cutting-edge education, research, and outreach efforts,” says Stephen Parente, professor of finance and insurance, director of MILI, and the Minnesota Insurance Industry Chair of Health Finance. The program, which started in 2007, currently has more than 80 members; they include MILI graduates and industry professionals representing device manufacturers, insurers/payers, care providers, health industry investors, research institutions, policymakers, and pharmaceutical companies.
MILI Affiliates enjoy many benefits and perks. They are invited to private events; gain access to the Carlson School’s faculty research, lifelong learning programs, and student body; and join a network of industry leaders who share skills and knowledge across organizations. “We believe our affiliate network’s collaboration and critical thinking will generate improvement and innovation within the medical industry,” Parente says.
Affiliate Events Expand Network Connections
The MILI Affiliates executive board meets regularly to plan diverse events ranging from topical roundtable discussions to site visits with key leaders at affiliate organizations. Edgerton recently led an event at his workplace. “The entire leadership of the National Marrow Donor Program sat down with the affiliates to discuss our vision, how we operate, our views on health care reform, and our strategies for working with the government, transplant centers, and doctors,” he says. “The event was well received and offered a real-life view of how a non-profit operates and creates benefits for the people it serves.”
The NMDP program facilitates more than 5,500 bone marrow and umbilical cord blood transplants each year by matching patients with donors, educating health care professionals, and conducting research. As a senior project manager, Edgerton is currently working with NMDP’s information technology senior leadership team to launch a business engagement group responsible for developing business partnerships with international registries.
Edgerton enjoys building connections. While pursuing his MBA, he formed an affinity group for African-Americans in the Carlson Part-Time MBA program. The group, now known as the Black Graduate Business Student Association, provides a social network and support system for incoming African-American students and builds awareness of the Carlson MBA program in the African-American community. He also is a member of the school’s Alumni Advisory Board which works to strengthen the relationships between the Carlson School and its 47,000 alumni. He continues to give back to the University through his involvement as a MILI Affiliate board member.
“The board is looking for ways to add the most value for affiliates through its events and programs,” he says. “We want to build a group where MILI Affiliates can meet others in the industry, gain insights into key trends, and discuss issues that are unique to the business side of health care. It’s an exciting time to be in this industry and to meet other professionals in the middle of the action.”
Stephan Dunning, ’10 MBA, director of strategy and business development in the Chronic Disease Research Group of the Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation and president of the MILI Affiliates executive board, says, “My participation in the affiliates program provides an opportunity for me to repay MILI for the terrific value it brought to me as a student and now as a medical industry professional. The affiliates program is a great way to develop friendships with incredibly passionate, influential, and personable medical industry professionals and gain new perspectives from proven experts. I hope to work with the other board members, as well as Carlson and MILI staff, to further develop a strategic plan for the program and begin to take action toward those goals.”
Dunning attends many affiliate programs, from networking activities to speaking events. A recent educational program, “Benefits and Burdens of FDA Regulations on Global Medical Technology Markets,” was sponsored by MILI and the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER). It included a keynote address by MILI Executive in Residence Susan Alpert and a panel discussion featuring medical industry leaders from companies such as UnitedHealth Care and Piper Jaffrey. “Given my organization’s involvement in health economics and outcomes research, I am particularly excited to attend the upcoming 4th Biennial Conference of the American Society of Health Economists,” Dunning says. MILI, the Carlson School, and the University of Minnesota are hosting the event in Minneapolis during June 2012.
Wanted: Proactive Participation
Creighton Long, ’00 MBA, senior director of claims operations at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, says he wanted to join the MILI Affiliates program as soon as he learned about it. “This is an interesting, exciting time of change throughout the medical industry, and the MILI Affiliates program provides opportunities to learn and share ideas with the leading scholars addressing these challenges,” he says. Long, also a member of the affiliate program’s executive board, has attended several MILI Affiliate roundtable breakfasts as well as the 1st Tuesday events sponsored by the Carlson School.
“The people involved in the MILI Affiliate program have diverse backgrounds and experiences and are proactive thought leaders who want to guide the future of the medical industry, not simply react to the changes as they come,” Long says. “I highly recommend this program to anyone seeking broad exposure to national and international medical industry issues and trends and who wants to actively participate in discussions about them.”
Find more information on the MILI Affiliate program and membership application forms at carlsonschool.umn.edu/medical-industry-leadership-institute/mili-affiliates.
Linking MILI with Industry
Executive in Residence and National Industry Council Strengthen Connections
Susan Alpert is confident that the business students graduating with a MILI specialization are ready to hit the ground running when they begin their careers in health care. That’s because Alpert, MILI’s new executive in residence, played a key role in ensuring that the program’s students graduated with a practical understanding of the health care environment as well as hands-on experience in the industry.
Alpert joined MILI’s faculty last fall after retiring from Medtronic where she served as senior vice president and chief quality and regulatory officer. In her new role at the Carlson School, she serves as an industry resource to students and coordinates outreach activities with universities on a national and international level.
While her position is new, Alpert’s involvement with MILI is not. “While developing the MILI curriculum, Carlson School leaders sought my perspective as a leader at Medtronic and as someone who had worked at the FDA with regulated industries. I told them that students needed to learn about the many players in the health care industry as well as understand the issues and challenges they faced. Today, MILI’s courses and experiential learning opportunities uniquely prepare students for internships and entry-level roles at major health care companies across the country.”
National Industry Council Provides Practical Perspectives
Alpert also contributed to the development of MILI’s National Industry Council which is comprised of senior-level executives from national medical, financial, and insurance firms with strong connections to the health care industry. The 11-member council provides leadership on joint venture research projects, national outreach, general advocacy, and ambassadorship for MILI. Members also facilitate contact with industry firms to enhance graduate and internship placement opportunities and provide guidance on the development of relevant executive education programs.
Corporate Partnerships Benefit Students
Medtronic and UnitedHealth Group are sponsoring programs with the Carlson School that create win-win results for students and the global health care community by educating future leaders.
Real-world experience is on the agenda at the Medtronic Interdisciplinary Health Care Case Competition, an annual event that allows students to apply their skills to a real case challenge. Medtronic, which sponsors the annual event, provides the case as well as generous cash prizes. In the competition, teams work for 36 hours to develop strategic recommendations, and then present their cases to industry judges and Medtronic representatives. The experiential event brings together students from various colleges at the University, including the School of Public Health, the Medical School, the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, the College of Science and Engineering, the College of Biological Sciences, and the Carlson School.
A $1 million gift from UnitedHealth Group is supporting a scholarship program to encourage more students to pursue careers as health care actuaries. MILI coordinates and manages this scholarship program and plans two professional seminars per year for scholarship recipients and industry representatives. The UnitedHealth Group Actuarial Scholarships provide up to two semesters of full-time, undergraduate, in-state tuition for as many as 15 undergraduate students per year on the Twin Cities campus.
Building the Business Case for Emerging Medical Technology
MILI’s Valuation Lab is a training ground for students and inventors
Medical technology inventors typically have an idea and they want to know how to turn that idea into a business. To help them realize the market potential of their inventions, students from the Carlson School and seven other University colleges provide evaluations of new medical innovations through the Medical Industry Valuation Lab course.
Sponsored by MILI, the Valuation Lab “helps inventors accelerate the innovation pipeline, prepares students for leadership roles in the medical device industry, and benefits Minnesota’s economic development,” says MILI Director Steve Parente. “Inventors want to see whether a technology or idea they’ve been working on has good market value. During the class, students analyze it the way an investor would to see if it’s a valuable investment or not.”
To gain the skills they’ll need to do an evaluation, students start each semester with a day-long “boot camp” where they hear presentations on topics like marketing, intellectual property, valuation, regulatory rules, reimbursement, and licensing. Once an assignment (invention) is identified, the students form teams and work together for five weeks to evaluate it. In the fifth week, students give a final presentation to the inventor(s). The process is repeated three times during a semester. Students gain invaluable experience evaluating medical innovations and working with students from other disciplines, inventors, and industry experts.
Opening the Door to Chinese Technology
The Valuation Lab course will soon expand its scope even further due to a new partnership between the Carlson School and the School of Medical Instruments and Food Engineering at the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology (USST). Thanks to the agreement, Valuation Lab students will soon evaluate medical technology innovations and new products from China’s emerging health care market.
The collaboration was proposed by Carlson School alumnus Ge Yan, ’11 MBA. Yan also helped facilitate negotiations between the two schools. “The Chinese medical industry is expected to experience double-digit growth for the next five years,” says Parente. “As these opportunities open up, more American companies will do business in the Chinese market. Future leaders will need both international and intercultural experience.”
Parente expects MILI’s Valuation Lab students to develop advanced communication and collaboration skills as they gain exposure to global technology innovations, venture firms, and inventors. “By applying their professional expertise across cultures, industries, and cutting-edge markets in real time, students on both ends of this partnership will develop a deeper understanding of international business and a long-lasting global network of friends and colleagues,” he says.
MILI fellows Program Deepens Experience
Each year, four to six outstanding students who have taken the Valuation Lab course are selected to work as MILI Fellows alongside the Innovation Fellows of the College of Science & Engineering’s Medical Devices Center. In a year-long project, these students work together on new products. As the Medical Device Fellows develop new products, the MILI Fellows provide the business case for each product in its research and development phase. This valuable, real-world experience allows Carlson School students to bring cutting-edge technologies out of the lab and into the hands of physicians, patients, and investors.