“As you can imagine, developing a groundbreaking robotic platform and instruments requires years of R&D work and it’s our top priority to protect our innovations with a robust patent strategy.” Massimiliano Simi, PhD, VP R&D MMI SpA
My name is Paolo Ernesto Crippa, I am a European patent attorney at Jacobacci & Partners.
Two numbers: 2015- 2020 five years. The company I am presenting to you today is a start-up that in 5 years became able to introduce in the European market a robot for microsurgery in open fields, that is able to move scaling and tremor reduction. This company is Medical Micro Instruments or MMI. This is thanks you a great number of people, who have been able to merge researchers in a wonderful field and in a wonderful area, Pisa. Since 2015 when I first met Giuseppe Prisco, I recognized a person that is conscious about the importance of the quality of intellectual property and who was able to increase the patent portfolio from 8 patents in the first year to more than 150 patents. Not only patents, but also know-how management, designs and trademarks. Now I leave the floor to Daniele Bettini, who will interview Massimiliano Simi, the Research and Development Director of MMI.
DB: Thank you, Paolo. Massimiliano what is MMI, how was it born and what do you do?
MS: MMI was founded in 2015 by me, Giuseppe Prisco and Hannah Teichmann. We met in Pisa and we worked in advance for two years thinking about how to miniaturize what is today recognized as a step up, an advantage for robotic surgery: it is a robotic wrist, so an articulated instrumentation that we have miniaturized. In 2015 we received our first capital from a business angel and we founded MMI, and we started attracting talents, a group of engineers who together with me built the product. Today the Symani robot is a robot for microsurgery, the application is associated to support and help microsurgeons to reattach vessels and nerves less than 1 mm in size. You can imagine how complicated it is: today it is done manually and so the tremor of their hands really affects or can affect the outcome of the procedure. Our robot allows to scale and filter motion achieving truly incredible precision and improves to achieve better patient results and help surgeons to be more satisfied with their work.
DB: how did you chose your team?
MS: thanks for this question. I can say that Pisa for sure represents a place where robotics is in the heart of Tuscany: University, Scuola Sant'Anna, and even the group of companies that work around Pisa have in the robotic their main topic. It is not easy to find knowledge in this field worldwide, but Pisa represents a perfect place in Italy, where to found and grow this kind of company, MMI now is a company that is able to attract talented people worldwide and we will always keep the bar very high, because in a small company whatever a person can bring is a huge contribution to the progress of the society. And so what we are looking for in the R&D group - that is the one I drive? Of course we are always looking for talented software engineers, mechanical and electronic engineers, who want to push forward technology and do this for the healthcare, that I think it is a very important field.
DB: and what kind of IP strategy have you built?
MS: IP is a very important asset for us. Since day one of MMI we have been considering how to protect our know-how and how to make this asset stronger, year after year. We worked together with Jacobacci to define a precise IP strategy that is based on two kind of things.
One is to grow and generate IP, so we generate patents, since the first day we start designing, so we have a growing portfolio that is now even bigger than 150 patents.
On the other side, we protect and create the know-how of the company, which is protected by a policy, which is based on the generation of protected information around what is considered the key and core competence of MMI. I would say that is not just robotics, but even production, in particular we consider our key components, the miniatured and articulated wrists, which are produced internally MMI. So all that area represents, I can say, our core competencies, this is secret for us.
DB: and for the future, what are your plans, your roadmap?
MS: well, I think that we are very young, the product is very young. Today we are installing platform around Europe and we are collecting feedback from key opinion leaders and surgeons who work with us very well, and they are full of suggestions and they are pushing our product in the field because they feel the need of technology in microsurgery. And I can say that today is robotics, tomorrow will be vision and artificial intelligence.
DB: thank you very much and good luck
MS: thank you