Combining Strategy, Creativity and Engineering in Creating Product Ideas for the Health Industry [Interview][Transcript]

Guest: Adam Bilney
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest Bio: Adam’s professional career started in Switzerland developing surgical tools for open heart surgery then progressed to Melbourne’s Baker Heart Research Institute designing cardiac devices. He is also a founding inventor of the devices behind Osprey Medical. With an interest in health and medical devices and technology, Adam has worked on wide ranging projects for local and international clients in the biomedical and consumer products space. An active member of AusBiotech and BioMelbourne Adam relishes taking on projects which make other engineers squirm!

Segment overview: For today’s Health Supplier Segment, get to know Outerspace and what they have to offer as we are joined by their Medical Division Manager Adam Bilney. They offer a full range of product design and engineering services. Whether clients need a complete solution from project brief to shelf-ready product, or just a little help along the way, you’ll get a high level of advice, help and personalised service from their experienced and diverse team of designers and engineers.


Health Professional Radio

Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. My name is Wayne Bucklar and today my guest is Adam Bilney. Adam is the manager of the medical division of a firm called Outerspace. Adam welcome to Health Professional Radio.

Adam Bilney: Thank you Wayne, a pleasure to be here.

W: Now Adam, Outerspace is not a name that immediately brings to mind what the company does. Tell us a little bit what you do at Outerspace and what Outerspace does.

A: Certainly. Yeah look Outerspace Design is a company that not many of you heard of but most of you would have actually interacted with a product we’ve designed. So we’ve been around for about 25 years and we’re a product design company. So basically what that means is someone that has a good idea comes to us with their idea, and we help them turn it into a reality. So we work in a fairly diverse area across different sectors, so we do things like we’ve got project working on metal detectors, and neuro diagnostic devices, we’ve had customer surgical tools, we’ve had iPad cases, we’ve work on electric guitars – there’s quite a range of product. So yeah it’s really a matter of us just being able to, oh sorry, basically if someone comes in with an idea and we turn it into a real product.

W: Okay now I would have thought that was kind of an engineering starting point or an electronic starting point, you’re saying design is where it starts?

A: Well we are a mixture of engineers and designers.

W: Okay.

A: So normally, what happens is a client will address a need. So for example in a surgical space we’ve had some people come to us with the ideas for products that many existing products are too expensive or too difficult to work with. And we’ve been able to identify different ways of making the product or different ways of designing it so that’s easier to use which then allows them to get a new product into the market to address a need that exists within the hospital system.

W: Now Adam I have to confess, I think you’re the first ever design company we’ve interviewed on Health Professional Radio. How does the process work?

A: So it’s not as daunting as what you might think, it normally it involves what we’ve because we’re not surgeons, we’re not clinicians, we have to understand what the problem is, so someone will come in to us and tell us what their idea is and then often we will actually then go out and observe them in their environments. It maybe we’re watching open heart surgery or we’re seeing some frustrations nurses are having working with existing devices. And then we come back here, we get a few guys in a room and we brainstorm creative ideas – and that’s basically how things start. So what we’re trying to find creative solutions that people haven’t thought of and start to make them tangible by drawing pictures of them, by carving them out of wood, by machining them, by 3d printing in some cases, and that’s where it starts.

W: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio with Wayne Bucklar. My guest is Adam Bilney, manager of the medical division of Outerspace Design. And we’ve been talking about the fascinating process of turning ideas in the medical realm into real products. So Adam is there something that is common place, is there a design company involved in most things?

A: Yeah, look design companies normally come into it when the person that has the idea or the company just doesn’t have that capability, for example when we work with many clients who are experts in the electronics, so they’re experts in software.

W: Uh huh.

A: But they’re not expert in mechanical things. So we sort of fill that gap, as I mention before that you’ve probably interacted with a product we’ve designed, you’ve probably swiped your credit card at a BP service station, where we’ve done payment system for a credit card companies like Quest Payment Systems … so there’s a number of products over the years that you would have interacted with.

W: Now most of our audience Adam as I’ve mentioned before are clinicians, normally nurses, doctors, allied health professionals working in hospitals. What’s the take away message that you’d like clinicians to get out of our chat today?

A: Well a lot of clinicians are not sure where to start when it comes to product design. A lot of them make walk around with great ideas and often give away those ideas for nothing to existing companies. The take home message I’d like to send out is that your idea can turn into your own product and with some guidance from product design experts you could actually successfully start up a company to commercialize your ideas.

W: That’s a significant point I guess. It’s that you do often hear the conversation of people who have good ideas and it just kind of falls into the lack of whoever picks it up from conversation around the board table or the dining room table or the lunch room table.

A: Yeah, absolutely. And one thing that is evident is that big companies aren’t actually doing the work. They’re not in the surgery, they’re not getting their hands dirty, they don’t see the problems that exist with their own products so often the person that’s using the products knows more about how to improve it than the company that’s made the product.

W: Good point. So Adam how do people make a start here, is it as easy as just contacting you off your website?

A: Yeah, look we’re very happy to have an initial conversation. Designing a product there is a multidisciplinary approach needed, you do need to have some intellectual property. For example your new idea needs to not have been developed by someone else but then it’s very easy to set those things up following an initial meeting with us.

W: Uh huh. And the best place to get in touch with you is at your website, I guess.

A: Yeah absolutely, and you will see some examples of other products that we’ve designed. And you send us an email we can give you some example of other products that might be more relevant to you that give you some examples of what can be done.

W: Now I’m forever getting in trouble for mentioning websites and not giving people due warning. So this one, pencils ready folks. This one is, C O it’s not a typo, it’s not meant to be com. So

A: That’s right, thank you Wayne.

W: You’re welcome. Adam my favorite question in every industry there are misconceptions. What’s the biggest misconception about your business that drives you nuts and keeps you awake at night?

A: That’s a good question. Look, I think a lot of people think that we have to take ownership in the intellectual property of the new idea. So people come and say we’re giving away their intellectual property. One thing that this pretty common across all product development company is if you pay for us to do the work then you own all the IP’s. If we came up with a new idea that is for you, then you keep that idea. You can patent that idea, the royalty is yours so you don’t lose your ideas by talking to product development companies.

W: I can understand why that would be a misconception. Thank you for clarifying that for us Adam. I’ve been in conversation today with Adam Bilney who’s the manager of the medical division at Outerspace Design. Adam, thank you for joining us.

A: Thank you Wayne, it’s been a pleasure. And yeah, I look forward to hearing from some of your listeners.

W: We hope to achieve that. If you’ve just missed us today, there’s a transcript of our conversation on our website at And the audio file is also available on YouTube and on SoundCloud and on our website as well. This is Wayne Bucklar, you’re listening to Health Professional Radio.

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