Innovation at Medela
For Medela, innovation is essential to ensure future business success. Innovation is the result of intense basic research and the evaluation of customers' needs. Today, development projects in medical technology must follow a standardised user-centred design process.
Medela has funded basic research into breastfeeding and breast milk as well as innovative medical vacuum technology for almost 20 years. This funding is not directly connected to Medela’s products. But basic research results may lead to applied research and, in turn, to product development and clinical research. This is integral to Medela’s innovation process.
Gathering facts through academic research
Regarding research into breastmilk and breastfeeding, Medela has a long-standing relationship with the University of Western Australia (UWA) and also collaborates with other universities, hospitals and research institutions globally. For the development of products in the field of medical vacuum technologies, Medela has established a strong cooperation with key opinion leaders and medical experts in hospitals worldwide.
Involving customers in the innovation process
Medela involves its users in the innovation process. By asking them about their needs and their experiences using Medela breast pumps and vacuum technology, new customer benefits can be realised. Medela’s product development is guided by the customers’ needs.
Three examples from Medela's portfolio of innovations:
"Symphony" hospital breast pump
The distinctive Symphony breast pump with research-based pumping programs originated from basic research at the University of Western Australia (UWA). Symphony imitates the baby's two natural sucking patterns. During breastfeeding, the baby's sucking starts out fast yet gentle to stimulate the milk-ejection reflex. It then switches to a slower and deeper rhythm. Symphony was the first breast pump with this 2-Phase Expression technology to reach the market, setting a new standard.
“Calma” feeding device
Medela developed Calma, a custom feeding device for delivering breast milk. The applied research that led to this innovation was based on studies at the University of Western Australia (UWA) of suckling, swallowing and breathing patterns during breastfeeding. Calma lets the baby suck, swallow and breathe in their natural rhythm; the baby must create a vacuum to get the milk flowing. Calma allows easy switching between breast, Calma and back to breast, since it mimics natural nursing patterns.
Calma was awarded the innovation prize at the Kind+Jugend Fair in Cologne in 2012.
“Thopaz+” digital thoracic drainage system
Thopaz+ sets new standards in therapy and thoracic drainage management. All necessary functionalities are fitted into one compact unit small enough to be carried by the patient. This innovation was made possible thanks to the close partnership with doctors and medical staff.