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Largest medical device conference comes to U of M

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More than 1,200 attendees are expected at a major medical device conference, today through Thursday at the University of Minnesota.

It's the largest such gathering in the world, say officials at the U of M, host of the conference. 

More than 300 companies and two-dozen colleges will be represented at the conference as well as industry regulators. Sessions will cover emerging trends in medical device design, regulatory policy, engineering, education and commercialization.

The conference gives academic researchers and small companies a chance to get their products and research noticed and to network with people and organizations that can help bring medical devices to market, said Art Erdman U of M mechanical engineering professor and co-chair of the conference.

He said the gathering provides a neutral ground for competitors to discuss cooperation on issues of mutual interest, such as expediting regulatory reviews of devices.

"My measure of whether the meeting is going well is the networking," Erdman said. "If I hear a lot of buzz, then I know the meeting is really going well. It's really all about learning and trying to figure out who do you need to talk to and follow-up with to take your idea and hopefully get it in the marketplace."

The industry and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are under pressure both to get devices approved faster and to end a sequence of high-profile device failures leading to recalls.

"Companies are very anxious to find common ground, along with the FDA, to try to help simplify the regulation and regulatory process," Erdman said.