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Bradford plays role in bringing medical technologies expertise to the world

Published: Wed 11 Apr 2018

The University of Bradford is part of a new collaboration aiming to make inventions more attractive to investors.

The Grow MedTech partnership, backed by almost £10m of funding, will build on the distinctive cluster of medical technologies expertise in the Leeds and Sheffield city regions. It will address issues that can block the process of commercialising products and bringing them from conception to clinical use.

Six northern universities, including Bradford, are among more than 20 partners in the three year project. Other supporters include the local enterprise partnerships serving both city regions, National Institute of Health Research organisations, councils and chambers of commerce.

Financial backing for technology

By supporting and financially backing researchers and developers to take new products through the early stages of commercial development, the partnership expects to bring around 20 potentially life-enhancing devices into everyday use during the next three years.

This will include taking the business risk out of early stage projects and providing proof of commercial concept funding, giving investors and businesses confidence that they have a realistic chance of success. It will also support clinical evaluation to secure regulatory approval, essential for them to be commercialised.

Support throughout the development of devices and products will enable universities to commercialise more medtech intellectual property and work more effectively with businesses and investors. Together they will be better able to progress opportunities which will increase the competitiveness of UK medtech on the global stage.

Professor John Bridgeman, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research and Knowledge Transfer) at the University of Bradford said: “We warmly welcome Research England’s support for connecting our distinctive strengths in research, development and innovation with those of our partners in Leeds, Huddersfield, Sheffield and York and we are greatly looking forward to participating in the Grow Med Tech consortium.

“We share common cause: to accelerate and maximise the benefits of innovation in health, care and medical technology for citizens in our region and across the world, and for companies across Yorkshire. This project is a great example of how collaboration between Yorkshire’s universities, including, for example, Bradford’s Digital Health Enterprise Zone, can offer improved health standards for everyone at the same time as boosting local jobs and economic growth.”

The funding will enable Bradford to connect expertise in health services research, end-of-life care, digital health, medical engineering and innovation management to a Yorkshire-wide consortium of universities with the shared objective of accelerating the impact of university research in medical technologies on patient wellbeing.

Dr Josephine Dixon-Hardy, Director of Medical Technologies Innovation at the University of Leeds is leading the delivery of the programme the partnership. She said: “We are bringing the best minds in engineering, biological development, design and manufacture together with industry to drive products into everyday use to improve the quality of life for people across the world.

“Our region already has an acknowledged reputation as a leader in this field – we plan to consolidate and extend that and provide the underpinning support needed to take new inventions through the important regulatory and testing processes needed to get them to market.”

Future trends

Previous research has identified that the most significant trend in future health care product innovation is the combination of different technologies. The partnership will pay special attention to supporting this area of growth.

Examples of technological convergence include connecting robotics and medical imaging systems to automate surgical procedures, and digital health and smart drug delivery services.

Better understanding

On a practical level, the partnership’s approach will involve:

  • Working with companies to better understand technology development and innovation needs.
  • Encouraging collaboration between clinicians, patients, and the NHS.
  • Identifying challenges and priorities for the sector.
  • Strategically matching researchers and companies to create combined technologies which are primed for development.

Grow MedTech is closely aligned with the recently published UK Government’s Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, which highlights the role of medical technologies as a driving force for the UK economy.

It is part-funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, which has contributed just under £5million. The remainder of the funding is provided by the partner organisations.

The project is a result of the Medical Technologies Science and Innovation Audit, led by the University of Leeds and published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in September 2017 and supports the Office of Life Sciences Industry Strategy and the Med-tech Sector Deal, and the Inclusive Industry Strategy for the Leeds City Region.

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