Jerry Turner, managing director of Team Consulting
BACKGROUNDER: Team Consulting Limited is a leading product development consultancy working primarily in the life science and healthcare industries. Acknowledged experts in medical and drug delivery device development, the company works globally with all kinds of companies, from start-up ventures to multinational organisations.
A professional engineer and amateur chef, Jerry Turner became managing director of Team in 1991. Still very much a practising engineer with broad-ranging management expertise, he is a frequent contributor to product development and, in particular, strategic assignments spanning the healthcare and industrial sectors.
1. Medtech seems to be receiving a huge amount of public and private investment as well as profile at the moment. Why do you think this is?Medical research science shows us the mechanisms of disease, and improves our understanding of human biology. Newly acquired knowledge of underpinning science enables us to build the technology-based products needed to carry out new tests, therapies or treatments.
And while the increased understanding of medical science is an enabler for us to build these new products, a relevant factor is the increasing demand from the market for the products. While an ageing population wants to extend the quality and length of its life, public and private providers of healthcare want the technology to boost efficiency and reduce costs. Investors recognise that we’re well placed to exploit research findings and build products for which there’s a significant demand. 2. The Cambridge biotech cluster has still only produced one blockbuster drug to date. What major successes can the medtech cluster point to?Comparing Team Consulting’s work with that of biotech firms isn’t a very helpful comparison. However, Cambridge is one of the world’s leading centres for the development of technology, and that includes medical technology. Our work has enabled clients to build a plethora of medical products, each going on to be important in the application, market and country for which they were intended. The success, therefore, that we might point to is Cambridge itself and its importance to the application of medical technology around the world.3. How important to your business is your Cambridge address?There’s sufficient kudos to the Cambridge address to help us to achieve sales. The address, however, is not as important as the network of people and support services that has grown within the area as the reputation of Cambridge has travelled around the world. There are now many people and groups within Cambridge that understand the needs of medical technology development firms, such as us, and we find that partnering with them enables us to work co-operatively and to grow together.4. How international is your business?A little more than half our business comes to us from within the UK. Of the remainder, a little more comes to us from the US than from Europe. So, while we’re based in Cambridge, we’re constantly in conversation with people, groups and organisations from around the world.5. How has the recession affected your market and business?We’re tremendously pleased to say that the recession hasn’t affected us at all. We’ve continued to see growth in excess of 20 per cent throughout that last 12 months. That growth has enabled us to continue to recruit and to attract the quality of people who can take us forward.6. Have you achieved everything that you set out to when you became MD in 1991?No, because the job isn’t static and is never finished. I’m pleased that we’ve created a company with a different culture. We aren’t a hire-and-fire business. Instead, we’ve worked hard on building a sustainable business in which integrity and respect are as important internally as they are in the relationships we enjoy with our clients. But there’s always more to do and, as we grow, the objectives and aspirations change.7. What have been your biggest challenges to date?Achieving organic growth has been a constant but rewarding challenge. We’ve achieved significant growth without external investment and this has been important for the independence of the technology and advice that we give clients.
Although tempting at times, we have resisted creating spin-out firms. The maintenance of our independence, both intellectual and financially, has been our first priority. It gives real credibility to our opinions, which we express neither with bias nor prejudice and enables us to persuade clients to take the right option, rather than the lowest cost one.8. You still like to get involved in product development. Does this impinge on the operational demands of being an MD?It’s very rare that I get involved in development work in any detailed way, possibly much to the relief of the project teams! My time is mostly committed to the running of the company and the development of the business for the long term.9. In what ways - if at all - has an engineer's lot improved during your working life?There’s little doubt that the lot of the engineer has improved immensely. When I graduated engineers were still seen as manual workers. And while those workers were doing important things, engineers weren’t given much by way of professional respect. Nor were they credited with having the skills to research, design, innovate and manage. Our skills are given greater recognition now, by both the public and our peers and we sit alongside technologists and scientists in the professional strata.10. What do you see as your major drivers for growth over the next five to 10 years?We recognise that there’s a move towards the personalisation of healthcare and we now have the science and technology to take the diagnosis and treatment of many conditions much closer to the people who need it. It’s both more convenient for them and more efficient for the providers.
By reducing the length of the clinical pathway, such as where a test at home or at a doctor’s surgery means a patient doesn’t need to attend a hospital, we put people in control of their health and ensure they get to treatment, if needed, more quickly.
While the drivers for business are cost reduction and the development of new profit-based models for personal healthcare, there’s a lot of interest in development of new technologies that will enable diagnostic tests and therapies to be delivered in the home or in clinics.