For years, car companies have been calling on suppliers to develop and produce individual components for them, as well as end-to-end systems and even complete vehicles. Start-up company EOA is now doing similar things in the medical sector. The company is the result of a cooperation between five highly specialized Baden-Württemberg based businesses able to offer the complete range of services, from blue-sky concepts to development services, approvals, market launch and serial production. Steinbeis also has a stake in development partner EOA.
Over the past few decades, a number of global medical technology companies have outsourced business processes to concentrate on their core business or on the access to the market.
These companies have low internal resource levels in development. Instead they invest a lot of time and money managing a long list of suppliers in every corner of the globe. Providing these companies with all types of development services under one roof is Jurgen Haeberle, one of three directors at EOA: “Depending on the resources, knowhow and requirement of the customer, we can manage the whole process. From initial concepts to the finished product and market introduction – or any part along the way.”
For small and medium-sized medical equipment companies this represents welcome support in achieving the optimal time-tomarket, or pulling in specialist knowledge. After all mechatronics products combine parts and modules from mechanical engineering, electronic engineering and software engineering. On top of this comes the casing which has to be appealing in design and form to the user.
In particular, start-ups, which have usually only worked in a laboratory set-up, can call on EOA as a partner with business experience. Haeberle joined forces with Joachim Hiller from Biomedical Engineering to set up the new company. But even before EOA took shape, the two often worked on medical technology solutions in their previous roles under contract for partner companies. They also launched the new products on the market. The business model – based on an interdisciplinary approach to development – had proven its success even before the new company was set up. “Now when we develop medicines and measurement systems it’s not a loose arrangement, we’re within a solid company network,” emphasizes Hiller.
EOA banks on standard traceability and quality methods in carrying out development briefs but also a variety of international medical engineering standards. The integrated development partner works up a binding specification to complement the product specification already provided, which captures the customer’s expectations and then models it. Using project management and financial controls, all stages of development are monitored along with milestones and costs. Concepts and feasibility are agreed between all five companies. Once approved by the customer, TRICON Design (from Kirchentellinsfurt) works on the industrial design. The company bebro electronic (Frickenhausen) takes care of the electronics, DMT (Holzgerlingen) manages the mechanics. The Steinbeis Transfer Center Microelectronics from Goppingen with about 130 employees is responsible for software development – one of the three core business areas in addition to FlexRay and engineering services. Once the customer has given their consent, Biomedical Engineering and the other four partners takes care of official approvals, market introduction and product life cycle.
The company is organized into a development team of around 120 employees, while the number in production is even higher at 700. The five companies involved still operate as separate profit centers, however, but as soon as a contract involves at least two partners, EOA takes over the project based on the maxim EITHER ALL, OR NOTHING.