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PDMA Professionals: Bringing Innovation to the Front Lines of the Global Pandemic

By PDMA Headquarters posted 04-16-2020 10:14


PDMA Professionals: Bringing Innovation to the Front Lines of the Global Pandemic
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Click here to download a PDF copy of this press release.

The Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) community has come together, within the organization and at member companies, to answer the global call to arms from the health care community. Here are a few of their stories:

Procter and Gamble

Showcasing the power of Agile manufacturing, the team at P&G has been mobilizing teams to manufacture and distribute hand sanitizer around the globe. According to a recent blog post on their website, after obtaining an approved WHO formula and recommendation, the production teams jumped into action to identify and obtain the raw materials they needed and within 24 hours the first bottle of WHO sanitizer was produced. Shortly after the first team’s success, the Ohio team quickly pivoted and brought production online in 3 days, according the Perfume Operations Supply Leader, Omar Bravo.

Massey University School of Food and Advanced Technology

Illustrating the importance of innovation and connection, PDMA Member Sean Rasmussen, the Technical Services Manager at the Massey University School of Food and Advanced Technology in Auckland, New Zealand, saw an article about the initiative ShieldsUp NZ and leapt into action. He reached out to see what he could provide this initiative, whose goal is to connect with 3-D printer owners with open source designs to print protective face shields for frontline medical staff battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I immediately started printing the shields on my 3-D printer at home and contacted our Head of School, to see if I could access our workshops and labs at Massey University. Massey approved this and fully endorsed my mission to help out our doctors, nurses and medical staff around the country,” said Rasmussen. “I am now one of the core members of the ShieldsUp project and am helping with not only manufacturing but optimizing designs and processes to ensure that it is a success.”

Showcasing the power of the PDMA community, PDMA Board Member Aruna Shekar reached out to Rasmussen about his work and connected him with the manager of Auckland District Health Board, who had requested help identifying people to assist with the design and making of protective equipment for their staff. “It’s been super busy since then trying to meet the big demand,” said Rasmussen. “There is a huge shortage of PPE for frontline staff at the moment and recipients of our donated shields are extremely grateful when we deliver them – some have been put to tears.”


Stepping wholeheartedly into the concepts of Agile manufacturing and community outreach is PDMA member Medtronic. The company has responded in unprecedented ways to meet the dramatic needs of the health care system, including engaging internal teams and former competitors to coordinate a rapid response. Some of the innovations coming from this global leader include the release of ventilation design specifications to help increase global ventilator production, launching a COVID-19 section of their external idea submissions to help funnel public submissions to their IP and R&D experts for review, and providing design support on a team of experts from Boston Scientific, University of Minnesota and UnitedHealth Group for a basic mechanical compact ventilator.

Connecting Innovators Worldwide: 3D Systems

Showcasing that the innovation and startup community is vibrantly assisting during this time, 3D Systems recently placed a COVID-19 Call to Action. Global organizations and companies of all sizes, including individuals like LeanMed CEO and PDMA Vice Chair Mark Adkins, have answered. The global initiative connects the health care community with the global 3-D printing community to help bridge the supply chain gap for needed personal protection equipment (PPE) and medical devices.

“A number of global initiatives are bringing worldwide communities together, including this one from 3D Systems,” said Adkins. “By activating this large community of 3-D printers of all sizes, people and organizations around the world have been able to respond quickly to the growing needs of the health care workers and manufacturers.”

On the 3D Systems COVID-19 Response page, the organization lays out the key areas where they are focusing their efforts — including the “engineering and printing support for personal protective items, manufacturing capabilities for ventilator venturi valves, and medical education resources for lung ultrasound procedures.”

“The 3-D Printing community seems like it would be small, but what we are seeing here is closer to a global virtual factory being activated; it’s inspiring,” commented Adkins. “It really is a global community coming together through innovation.” 

The innovations of PDMA members and the wider product development community don’t end with just these examples. Every day, more innovators and disruptors step up and provide vital services. The American Hospital Association recently started the “100 Million Masks Challenge” to quickly ramp up production of PPE. The challenge provides manufacturers, community businesses and individuals an opportunity to support their local health care providers by increasing the production of vital protection gear.

To help connect even more innovators around the global and build on the community of innovators who already connect through the organization, PDMA recently launched an Innovators Respond to Crisis section of its Knowledge Hub (kHUB). This forum provides members the chance to connect and share ideas about how they, as product development professionals, can come together and provide much-needed relief and services.

About PDMA

The Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) is a global community of over 2,000 members whose skills, expertise and experience power the most recognized and respected innovative companies in the world. Established in 1976, PDMA is the only organization that focuses on the unique set of integrated activities involved in the full lifecycle of product development and management, including innovation.

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04-20-2020 07:18

Great to see NPD and innovation capabilities being put to such important use. If the definition of innovation includes sensing a need or challenge in the environment and responding to employ ideas to generate value or solutions to that challenge, then I can't think of a better application of innovation right now. Great to see PDMA companies and individual members utilising their skills for the greater good.

04-16-2020 13:21

I'm so proud of my PDMA colleagues!  The examples in this post are real and significant actions to quickly innovate and provide solutions to address issues related to COVID-19.
I'm sure there are many more examples,
Do you have stories to share from your company or community?