I joined Adapttech in October 2017. Back then, as a Biomedical Engineering senior year student, I was starting work on my MSc Thesis on gait analysis using INSIGHT, to be developed from February 2018 onwards.
I did not know it at the time, but from that point on, I was in for a ride. This ride ultimately led me to successfully defend my MSc Thesis and join the company full-time, but throughout the whole time, I had to continuously balance Industry and Academia.
Adapttech is deeply rooted in Academia. One hour into my first day at the company, I was given Fred's MSc Thesis to read. That is basically the seminal document of INSIGHT's 3D laser scanning technology, the company’s main product.
This is a fairly common setup for a startup, especially in health tech: born out of successful academic investigative work with clear market potential. What may not be so common in most cases is, as the years go by, actually being able to stay loyal to these roots while building a costumer-oriented identity - as Adapttech has been doing.
Master's Theses are investments
I was not the first (and also not be the last) student doing an MSc thesis at Adapttech. Regardless of the size of the task in hand, supporting a student requires considerable efforts in man-hours, company resources and or/equipment. It is, undoubtedly, an investment.
As we’re talking about business, a trade-off analysis must be made on every investment. In case of an MSc thesis, besides the support and resources, there is another extremely burdensome commitment to consider: to Science and its method, with all the pros and cons it carries.
The scientific method: it works
Sometimes, the scientific method calls for investigations that don't necessarily or immediately align with the hectic and fast-changing needs of the business. At first, it may even seem counterproductive to spend money on those, but going down that road eventually pays off. You build up such a great depth of knowledge on the topic that you are then able to iterate quicker and more confidently. And, in the world of medical devices, you don't design, decide and develop lightheartedly - there is simply too much at stake.
Case in point: recently we had to improve upon our gait analysis platform, whose first iteration was based on some of the work in my MSc Thesis. Besides the experience and toolchain directly produced in that work, we also knew exactly where the state-of-the-art stood, where we fit and where we should head next. Predictably, we iterated fast.
A very similar thing happened with João Gomes's MSc Thesis on wireless communications, whose know-how brought to the company allowed us to, very soon after, bend those communication protocols pretty much to our liking.
"If it works, it ain't stupid" - yeah, but...
Adapttech's Dojo Kun 3rd rule - simplicity is the ultimate sophistication - materializes itself in the "if it works, it ain't stupid" corollary. However, and especially in the medical field, it is an act of extreme stupidity not to understand why it works. By embracing the scientific method so openly, we keep both asking and answering all the whys that come along.
To deliver the solutions we deliver with the levels of user experience we strive for, we do a lot of technology transfer. Most of it would not be as effective without this constant support of academic work laser-targeted at the market's needs. It's as if, with the right balance, you can actually get the best of both worlds.
Daniel Rodrigues is our Biomedical Engineer and has winning the contest "Best Master Thesis" by Associação Portuguesa de Reconhecimento de Padrões.