2020 is all about COVID-19. Everything else, from politics, presidential election, war, technology, deaths, was somehow only in the background. When every one of us faces existential threats, so do businesses. I used to think having a company mission statement was a somewhat superficial activity, but it was during this tumulus time, having a well-defined focus proved to be critical to survival. For us, 3DHEALS aims to educate, connect, and discover innovators, startups, people, and companies that will define our future. Thanks to having a clear goal, the 3DHEALS community is able to stay connected while decentralized and survive the pandemic. This post serves both as a review of 3DHEALS in 2020, and our guide to 3DHEALS in 2021.
Even before the pandemic, we were already working on digital solutions to achieve our goal beyond in-person events. This ranges from revamping our website to starting a minimalistic online education program, to new video channels. Even before the pandemic, I was a loyal Zoom customer given I was organizing a large in-person conference with 70+ speakers from all over the world in June 2020.
After years of putting together 3DHEALS events, while I still do believe in the magic of in-person connections, the cost of business travel is high both financially and physically. This cost is bilateral, to both the audience and the organizers. That said, we always had a good time at 3DHEALS events, and here are a few photos as proof before the March state-wide quarantine in San Francisco :
Before the pandemic, I also started to host personal dinner parties inviting folks from 3D printing and bioprinting companies along with my other interesting friends at home, hoping to establish closer networks so that startups can get help more than I can personally offer. That effort was put to a stall obviously, but surprisingly, my cooking skills proved instrumental in surviving the next nine months.
When the pandemic started, like everyone else in the 3D Printing community, we wanted to contribute in ways we could. Our main strength was information distribution, and we immediately hosted two online webinars focusing on COVID-19 response as well as several resource pages. It was an honor to be able to have leaders from different organizations from all over the world to share their strategies, perspectives, and even worries. After realizing a lot of 3D printing efforts for PPE were not well-guided and perhaps even unsafe, our second COVID-themed webinar aims to address the need for a better design.
When it became obvious that the pandemic may be here with us for a long time, the biggest question I faced was if I should continue on with 3DHEALS2020. There were a lot of uncertainties around COVID, my own safety included as I was working in healthcare facilities where PPE supply was short.
Of course, that’s no longer a mystery, with a successful two day online 3DHEALS2020 running continuously for eleven hours per day and seventy-six speakers and ZERO technical issues. I believe we have set a record of virtual conferences in the world in duration and logistic success with a small team and simple technologies.
Since the conference, however, the world has also evolved. More important than having more digital options to connect virtually, people are more willing to engage online, and some even like it better than in person meetings.
Why would people like virtual meetings?
It’s not that people don’t like to see you in person. It’s because it can really scale up certain meaningful engagements with increased efficiency and impact, especially in business, where a large part of these meetings include information exchange and transactions.
No need to have a front row seat, you are in the front row anywhere you sit.
Another reason is perhaps a bigger trend of how our society is changing: connected but decentralized. This is the world where at-home diagnostics/healthcare (DEXCOM), wellness equipment (Peloton/Apple), one-bedroom apartments, and singlehood or smaller family units will continue to thrive. Therefore, it will make sense that future virtual business conferences will not just be a backup solution, but a dominant player.
With this trend in mind, 3DHEALS started to focus more on our virtual engagements with several new categories:
The live webinars are completely free to the public. The first two events in January are already set to occur. These webinars feature world-class experts on important and relevant topics to the 3D printing ecosystem. For example, cybersecurity may not sound like an immediately relevant topic. However, for digital manufacturers and given ever-increasing hacks, this is extremely relevant to manufacturers for 3D-printed medical devices. Before you hire expensive consultants, these webinars are great ways to get your starter information kit on the knowledge that is not widely available.
In the same month, thanks to our Australian community manager William Harley, we will be able to engage with the Australian healthcare 3D printing ecosystem (without having to fly for 16 hours).
Over the past 12 months, our IG account has grown significantly, both in content and functionalities. We aim to use this platform to give all innovators an equal playground. Good works will be discovered and highlighted continuously. In addition, we aim to make our IG a window for inspiration. We want people to be able to find futuristic art and design concepts as well as life-changing applications. Every 3DHEALS Instagram post is also directly reflected on our landing page.
Every Thursday (SF, Pacific Time), we will host IG Live interviews with the Instagram influencers we admire to have formal and informal conversations.
We want to bring these amazing people behind the beautiful images into the spotlight. We will invite them to discuss their works/lives, and at the same time answer to our audiences directly. No filter. (If you have a relevant IG account and/or want to participate in IG Live interview, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Here is a glance at our 2021 Event calendar (IG Live and Webinars):
The Lattice Podcast
The podcast project is something I have been putting off for somewhile. During this pandemic, I myself became an avid listener of several podcasts. One can learn a lot from listening to other peoples’ conversations during a walk, or house chores. The increased alone time during quarantine also gave me an opportunity to realize this project. To date, we have 34 episodes recorded. Some of these are interviews with our 3DHEALS2020 speakers. Others are audio recordings from IG live interviews and selected webinars.
One of the most exciting tasks at 3DHEALS is discovering new startups in the space. Meeting startup founders, learning about new technologies, and helping companies grow are some of the most fun things to do. Changing the world is not easy, and fundraising remains one of many challenges founders will meet.
Since April 20th, 2018, 3DHEALS has hosted numerous online and offline #Pitch3D sessions. These sessions introduced 30+ startups from all over the world to institutional investors in an exclusive and private setting.
The online pitch 3D has evolved in format, now occurring every other month or quarterly. The online format also avoids the opportunity cost of the investor-startup meeting due to time and geographic barriers. To pitch in our future sessions, the application is here. To be included in our investor mailing list, you must be qualified institutional investors, please email us directly: email@example.com. I am writing a separate article about past Pitch 3D companies.
In addition to virtual live engagement, we have and will continue to build free resources for the healthcare 3D printing community. No login is required to read our articles.
This year, we started to experiment with a new category of blogs, the “guide”. These are in-depth discussions of a particular topic typically with more than 10K words. They are regularly updated to remain as evergreen content for that particular subject. The guides can range from problem-solving (e.g. 3D printing in hospitals) to understanding different geography (e.g. Guide to Singapore Healthcare 3D Printing Ecosystem). We would like to think of them as the “Lonely Planet Guide” to the healthcare 3D printing adventure. Stay tuned for guides on bioprinting, biocompatible materials, and FDA cleared 3D printing-related medical devices.
We started this small project in May 2019, here is the first issue.
Since then, this newsletter has evolved through multiple versions and will continue to do so to stay as the convergent point of all other 3DHEALS activities, which include our news stream, social media share, event updates, and lately new YouTube videos.
I want to give a kudo and a thank you to our brilliant editorial assistant, Rance Tino. Rance is a current biomedical engineering Ph.D. student. It was his consistent delivery of this newsletter made The Lattice successful today.
We will continue to build this directory based on our daily news stream discoveries. It will serve as a free resource to our community.
A Sitemap of the Healthcare 3D Printing Ecosystem
3DHEALS will continue to invite field experts to contribute to this well-liked column. The column intends to dig deeper than normal news outlets, more technical. It aims to give people a first-person narrative from innovators/researchers themselves, removing the unnecessary middle narrator (i.e. journalist, marketer, etc.). I write regularly for the column, but it is nice to share others’ perspectives in their field of expertise. Lately, a combination of written blog and IG live interviews seems to add more dimensions to the existing content. (If you would like to contribute to this column, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org)
“From Academia” features recent, relevant, close to commercialization academic publications. These publications are in the space of healthcare 3D printing, 3D bioprinting, and related emerging technologies. We typically include 2-3 articles each week. So far, we have reviewed at least 50 publications. (If you have a recent 3DHEALS relevant publication, please email: email@example.com to request our review and share.)
3DHEALS Guides (Collective) – This is where we dive deep into subjects that you will find helpful for your projects and career.
3DHEALS From Academia (Collective) – This section features recent, relevant, close to commercialization academic publications in the space of healthcare 3D printing, 3D bioprinting, and related emerging technologies.