Stella Medical

full startup and product design process in the medical context

The Challenge

Build a startup on the basis of an unmet clinical need. Following the Stanford Bio Design process, observe and follow clinical workflows, identify a high-potential need, find a solution to solve it and push towards implementation by founding a startup – including business and brand design.

Interdisciplinary team of four together with
Laura Schütz | design
Caroline Brendle | computer science
David Esau | business
Three months

Need Identification

Design Research | Clinical Immersion

Department of Neurosurgery at 'Klinikum rechts der Isar', Munich. Immerse into the clinical context to observe and interview medical staff (doctors, nurses, support personnel) and patients during their daily processes to identify unmet medical needs.

Observing the workflows during open spine surgery

Interviewing a neurosurgeon about daily routines

Transforming observations to insights

Need filtering and selection

Methodologically select a front runner need that is worth solving. Transform from a local observation and necessity to a global impact with financial potential for a startup and hospitals.

Critical steps in spine stabilization and fusion surgery

Number of worldwide spinal fusion surgeries

Need statement

Current screw placement procedures

Desk research

Understanding the need in detail. Gain deep knowledge in the context around the identified need and its workflows. Perform a market and competitor analysis.

Environmental analysis – current OR setup for navigated spine stabilisation surgery

Operation steps for navigated spine stabilisation surgery

Concept & Strategy

Solution Concept Ideation

Co-create solution concepts in the team and with doctors. Build first rapid concepts and prototypes for evaluation of ideas with medical stakeholders – and use the feedback for concept selection and iterations.

Brain storming ideas with a focus on abstract technological solutions

Concept decision based on feasibility and user feedback

Concept Design Smart Drill Navigation System

1 | Planning Software

2 | Smart Drill Hardware

3 | Smart Drill UI

Product Experience

Product Detail Design

Technology components feasibility, detailed user journey embedded in OR workflow and setting. Detail UI design based on brand core and user journey for PC screen and integrated product displays. Implement key functionality of UI in experienceable prototype for further user testing.


Brand Strategy Workshop

Applying the golden circle to define a unique brand core and company name – as a strong basis for the visual identity of all digital and physical brand experiences and communication. 

Defining the brand core by answering the questions of why, how and what

Brand values

Moodboards for transforming values into visual brand identity

Brand Detail Design

Translating the brand core into brand experience, composed by brand elements in preparation for the launch at the investor pitch.


Strategic Business Design

Finding out which sustainable business model will work for all stakeholders. Analysing the competition and testing models together with hospital purchasing groups.

Competitor analysis and market positioning

Pricing model

Startup & Product launch

Pitch and evaluate product solution during investor pitch night and exhibition. The launch of the brand, company strategy and first product peek at the MedInnovate Winter Symposium 18/19.