Anna Lehner of Medline Industries shared a reflection on the value of connecting students with her company to design for independent mobility last fall. Here’s what she had to say:

“As a former product manager I know the focus of day to day projects can blur the future of a product line. Along with providing constant clinical solutions and education to our customers, who has time to look at the future when we are busy selling thousands and thousands of stethoscopes a year and eight million procedures per year use Medline’s surgical gowns and drapes?

The answer? Students and entrepreneurs. My role as an innovation manager isn’t to invent. It’s to find the inventors and bring them to Medline. Fresh eyes look at our products from a new perspective. These young minds can focus on better designs and improvements that our teams wouldn’t typically consider due to cost constraints, shipping issues or lack of demand for something new. This generation is hungry to take charge. In a 2014 poll of college students, 66 percent said they have dreams of starting their own business or have already done so.

Recently, Medline has been engaging student groups from across the country to look at our product categories and bring us their ideas on the next generation of durable medical products, smart textiles and new ways to keep patients healthy. Students from Design for America recently presented their work on improving patient mobility to Medline executives.”

Read more and see a DFA project video they created on the Medline blog!