Jeffrey Rovell & Associates, Inc.
HydroFlex Irrigation System

Jeff says: Davol, a division of C. R. Bard, had a successful product, but needed new technology to revitalize its business. By going outside the usual channels I introduced them to one of the country's most creative technology development labs -- and to a new product concept.

How It Started

John Nearing, a renowned medical inventor, had come up with a fluid delivery system marketed by Davol as ArthroFlow. The ArthroFlow was, at first glance, simply a bag of solution hung on a stand; but a series of ingenious valves and tubes could allow the surgeon to lavage during arthroscopic surgery. The ArthroFlow was a significant success in the arthroscopic surgery business.

Davol had been steadily growing the ArhtroFlow business by extending the product into non-arthroscopic surgeries. Other 'Flows, such as GynoFlow, were designed and marketed, and the market response showed that there was an interest in such a product. However, the ArthroFlow was not flexible enough in its design to be universally adopted for non-arthroscopic surgeries. It was a complex product built for a very specific use -- and work on the product's design would be necessary to turn into a universal product, useful in a variety of surgeries.

Davol clearly needed to tap into a new source of innovation. They had very little expertise in pump technology, and needed to find a new partner to develop the product.

Finding A New Partner

A few weeks before I had seen Dean Kamen, founder and president of DEKA Research and Development, a corporation in Manchester, New Hampshire, talking on television about the insulin pump he had invented and subsequently sold to Baxter for over $20 million. I saw that DEKA had the capability to help Davol, and that Davol could be another developmental partner for DEKA.

As a business facilitator, part of what I do is bring companies directly in contact with the best possible people and technology. Rather than go through the bureaucracy at DEKA I contacted Dean directly on Saturday, right after the television show had ended. I made the right case for a partnership between DEKA and Davol, and within the week I arranged a meeting at Davol in Cranston, Rhode Island between Ed Kelly, president of Davol, Dean, and engineers from both companies.

Ultimately, I facilitated a development agreement between Davol and DEKA which put a team of DEKA scientists on the project. DEKA reconceived the ArthroFlow product to incorporate their breakthrough pump technology, creating a single, configurable device which used disposable 'casettes' for each surgery. The complex family of 'Flow' products Davol had been marketing was replaced with a single powerhouse product, a multifunctional pump with arthroscopic, endoscopic, and gynecologic flow/lavage applications. This product, marketed as the HydroFlex Irrigation System, was a significant step forward for Davol.

A Lasting Relationship

The arthroscopic pump DEKA developed is still widely recognized as a significant product on the market. Davol has sold thousands of units along with a line of disposables, and Davol now offers a variety of tubing sets. I have continued to work with DEKA on relationships with Johnson & Johnson, Bespak PLC, and Unilever Hindustan.

Often, companies pick certain tried-and-true routes to product development, such as acquisition or in-house R&D work. Yet those routes can be expensive, and others do exist. By helping Davol to create a succesful partnership with DEKA, I helped to energize a development effort stymied by those tried-and-true routes. Finding an alternate way around a seemingly unavoidable impasse is part of what I do best as a facilitator of business.