Miyazaki Enterprises

Winston-Salem, NC

First in Ingenuity

From an early age, Douglas Miyazaki, M.D., knew he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps, not only to become a medical doctor, but to improve the profession through invention. Dr. Miyazaki opened his gynecology practice in Winston-Salem in 1994, and soon became concerned at the decline in training opportunities for OB-GYN surgeons. As the number of female pelvic surgeries declined, so did the opportunities for training new surgeons, and the existing pelvic models were plastic and unrealistic. So he set out to develop a prototype that would allow for a realistic surgical experience without putting live patients at risk or requiring cadavers.

Teaming Up

Miyazaki and his son, Noah, now Vice President of Business Development at Miyazaki Enterprises, put together a team that included individuals with a wide variety of expertise in medicine and product development: Dr. Bruce Anderson, Director of Research; Erica Needham, Chief Engineer; One World, model production company; and many others. “It was a global team effort,” Dr. Miyazaki said. “I’m a physician; I’m good at what I do, but I don’t know much about business, research, and development.” Specifically, he lacked critical knowledge in grants funding.

“[Our SBTDC advisors] have been part of our professional business family since 2015.”

The Grant Application Process

In 2015, while researching the grant application process, Miyazaki was introduced to Chris Veal with the SBTDC. “We were brand new,” he said. “We didn’t really know what the resources were. Then Chris opened the doors to resources.” Though their first grant application was denied, Dr. Miyazaki and his team were unfazed. They regrouped, addressed the critique of their first application and, with the help of Veal and others, reapplied. Six months later, they received their first grant approval. Veal has “been part of [their] professional business family ever since.”

Strategic Development

Despite some COVID-related setbacks, the Miyazaki Enterprises team has set themselves up well for growth. They’ve built out their academic resources, including videos and free downloadable applications. Recently, they’ve begun expanding to markets abroad, enlisting the help of Owen George, an SBTDC International Business Development Counselor. “What we’re doing right now is engaging strategic organizations, strategic partners, key opinion leaders, and making sure that we’re very well integrated with these programs,” said Dr. Miyazaki.

Addressing Challenges

“This space is very, very slow to adapt innovation historically,” said Noah Miyazaki. “Our training model presents a new fundamental shift and understanding of skills acquisition and training and understanding of the environment.” As the market adapts to their innovation, Miyazaki Enterprises has experienced steady gains. They’ve received four NIH grants and gone through Phase I, II, and II B R&D grants totalling over $4 million. They were the first North Carolina business to be awarded a Phase II B grant from the National Institute of Child and Human Development. That grant will involve “a seven-site national study that will show intervention with simulation training versus traditional training and will show performance in the OR.”

Caterer of Change

Dr. Miyazaki plans to make his training model the gold standard in gynecological surgery and leave an indelible mark on the medical landscape. “It’s extremely rewarding and exciting for me to be able to give back actively and be a caterer of change.”

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