Innovation & Entrepreneurship in the Medical Device Industry

Friday, October 27, 2017 -
2:00pm to 3:00pm
The FUNG Auditorium
Peter C. Farrell

Founder, former long-term CEO and current Chairman of ResMed

Board of Trustee of The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla

Chairman of the Boston-based POC NMR diagnostic company, WaveGuide

Innovation & Entrepreneurship in the Medical Device Industry


Innovation & Entrepreneurship   Let me define what I mean by these terms.  Innovation is generally thought to be based upon creativity and imagination and, while true, these are not sufficient elements to describe innovation. In reality, innovation only occurs when a product or process is delivered into the marketplace.  In short, innovation requires anointment by the marketplace which ultimately happens when customers write checks. 

It is also generally believed that entrepreneurship involves risk-taking which while partially true, more correctly involves opportunity seeking.  Entrepreneurs don’t usually bet the farm by taking huge risks rather they minimize the risks while seizing the opportunity.  People outside the tent looking in might perceive a big risk but those inside the tent looking out generally see further over the horizon and firmly believe that the opportunity, which they have assessed, is exciting enough for them to invest their time, energy and money.  Entrepreneurs are convinced they will be successful otherwise they wouldn’t bother. We use a template in order to assess the relative worth of various innovative opportunities in which we might wish to invest.  I will outline this template to indicate how we at ResMed have applied it, over many years, to the medical device industry with in our case, a particular focus on sleep-disordered breathing and respiratory technology.


Peter Farrell is founder, former long-term CEO and current Chairman of ResMed. Farrell has been Chairman and a director of ResMed since 1989, when the company began as a management buyout of sleep technology from Baxter Healthcare.  Peter was previously Foundation Director of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Graduate School for Biomedical Engineering (1978-89) while simultaneously serving as Vice President of R & D for Baxter Healthcare in Tokyo (1984-89).  Dr. Farrell is a director of NuVasive, Inc. (NUVA) a company focused on the surgical treatment of spine disorders.  He is also on the board of trustees of The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla and is Chairman of the Boston-based POC NMR diagnostic company, WaveGuide.

Dr. Farrell is a fellow or honorary fellow of several professional bodies, including the US National Academy of Engineering. He was inducted as 1998 San Diego Entrepreneur of the Year for Health Sciences, 2001 Australian Entrepreneur of the Year and 2005 US National Entrepreneur of the Year for Health Sciences. In 1998, Peter joined the Sleep Medicine Executive Council at Harvard Medical School, served as vice chairman from 2000 to 2010 and then as chairman from 2010 until 2013.  He is on various academic advisory boards including UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering, where he was named the 2012 Gordon Fellow, UCSD’s Rady Business School and the MIT Dean of Engineering's Advisory Council.

Peter holds a B.E. with honors in chemical engineering from the University of Sydney, an SM in chemical engineering from MIT, a PhD in bioengineering from the University of Washington, Seattle, and a DSc from UNSW for research which resulted in improved treatment for both hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis patients.