THE HANDS-ON, INDUSTRY-FOCUSED TECH LEADER WE NEED: MEET DR. ERIK SCHEMEPart of the "Under the Microscope" Series admin May 13, 2015
Meet Erik Scheme, a young thirty-something who’s accomplished more in his short career than many do in a lifetime. Last year he was named one of NBIF`s research chairs shortly following the completion of his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at UNB. Now, he is the NBIF Research Chair in Medical Devices and Technologies where he is helping grow the medical technology industry in New Brunswick by leveraging the growing collaboration between UNB`s Institute of Biomedical Engineering (IBME) and the Dr. J. Herbert Smith Centre for Technology Management and Entrepreneurship (TME).
Dr. Scheme earned his stripes early having been awarded the Governor General’s Gold Medal for maintaining a perfect 4.3 GPA throughout his Ph.D. work, which he completed in four years while working full time as an engineer at UNB’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering. He still found time to lead several demanding projects, author and co-author 12 papers, present at international conferences, author two book chapters, and deliver regular workshops within the biomedical community. Oh – all of this accomplished while co-parenting twin girls.
Although he’s been neck deep in academia since the beginning of his career, the focus of his work as Chair has been on commercialisation, applied research, and community building. His vision for his role as NBIF’s Research Chair in Medical Devices is three-pronged: (1) help existing companies develop innovative technologies, (2) build the medical technologies entrepreneurial ecosystem, and (3) further integrate IBME into the entrepreneurial community.
Although separate entities, IBME and TME make up a symbiotic relationship of expertise and resources that foster innovation and risk-taking in their students and the entrepreneurial ecosystem. An impressive amount of technology startups have been spun out of TME, including SmartSkin Technologies, Resson Aerospace, Oasis Farmery, and the most recent one, Doctors Orders, a startup that is designing a “smart cane” to help speed patient recovery, and the latest poster child for what happens when a research has commercial potential.
“I see medtech outperforming pharma over the next 5 years,” says Dr. Scheme. He says the future is in wearable tech as a platform with medtech as a natural tie-in. “Patients are taking an increased interest in their own health. Combining medical technologies with big data analytics is the future.”
When asked to share his ultimate goal for his role as Chair, Dr. Scheme asks us to “imagine a funnel, a process where aspiring companies can ask for support and they are guided through the ecosystem.” This idea has been floating around the NB entrepreneurial ecosystem a great deal lately; everyone agrees that key players need to communicate better, increase collaboration and reduce duplication in order to realise our economic potential as a region. “Let’s not be naïve and operate in separate silos. Let’s get together and grow together.”
Dr. Scheme recognizes that his work with IBME is just a small part of a wider business and research ecosystem. At his first opportunity in his new position he was pounding the pavement, meeting face-to-face with the members of the region’s business and research community. He calls medtech “the intersection between biotech and ICT,” so his outreach efforts have been cross-sectoral.
On May 19th the Institute of Biomedical Engineering, in partnership with TME, the NB Health Research Foundation, Health & Life Sciences New Brunswick and BioNB, will host “Medical Technologies in New Brunswick: Strengths and Strategies.” The networking event is meant to promote discussion and help identify opportunities in the medtech sector in New Brunswick. Dr. Scheme has been pondering this event since his first day on the job, hoping that it will be a catalyst for New Brunswick to capitalise on emerging opportunities in medtech.
The Institute of Biomedical Engineering has the equipment, partnerships, and capacity to stay abreast of industry needs and to keep innovating. “The Institute fills holes in the industry, doing whatever research needs to be done.” With Dr. Scheme on the ground they are widening their scope toward industry-focused initiatives, and hoping the upcoming Strengths and Strategies event will give perspective on where to head next.
Click here to learn more about May 19th’s event, Medical Technologies in New Brunswick: Strengths and Strategies”.