Call for industry challenges in medtech diagnostics

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Are you a company with unmet diagnostic research and development needs? Are you looking for ways to connect into academic know-how? Do you want to develop a new diagnostic technology and apply for innovation funding? 

Grow MedTech and Translate MedTech, in partnership with the NIHR Leeds Diagnostics Co-operative, are hosting an Academic Industry Meeting (AIMday) on medical diagnostics on 10 December 2020 and we would like to invite you to participate.  

We are now inviting companies interested in the field of medical diagnostics to submit questions by 28 October 2020 that will be strategically matched to our academic base across six universities (Bradford, Huddersfield, Leeds, Leeds Beckett, Sheffield Hallam and York).

Selected questions will then be discussed in detail in one-hour focus groups at the AIMday, led by you with members of the team to help.  

By participating in AIMday Grow MedTech Diagnostics you will: 

For key dates and further information, including how to formulate your question, visit the AIMday website or get in touch with Joe Drake who can help guide you.  

New programme fast-tracks product development for regional medtech SMEs

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The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) has announced a new European Regional Development Fund project to help medtech SMEs across the Leeds City Region, West and North Yorkshire to accelerate product commercialisation and product/process improvement.

The project, entitled ‘Formulation Technology applied to Materials and Products’ (ForTaMP), assists SMEs that are active within or seeking to access the health/personal care sector, in addition to other sectors.

Using CPI’s expertise and extensive facilities within formulation chemistry, businesses can enhance product performance  and improve manufacturing processability properties.

SMEs will be assisted in areas such as colloid/emulsion chemistry, nanotechnology, powder processing, materials science, nano-enhanced inks, composites and coatings.

“This project aims to support small businesses who work in a range of markets to develop new exciting formulated products and enable their innovation journey in the development of these products,” said Dr Robin Brinham, Project Manager of the ForTaMP project at CPI. 

“Using our state-of-the-art scale-up and testing facilities at CPI will provide a powerful springboard for the growth of these formulated products in the Leeds City Region, and we are proud to be a part of that.”

Funding and IP

ForTaMP funding, allocated as state aid through the European Regional Development Fund, is 100% so no further financial investment is required from the SME.

IP created by an SME project supported through ForTaMP remains with the SME and non-disclosure agreements are drawn up by CPI’s legal team to ensure company information remains confidential.

Eligibility and accessing support

Any SME, in the target market sectors, with a trading or registered address within the Leeds City Region, West and North Yorkshire is potentially eligible for ForTaMP support at no cost.

This includes the following areas:

Interested SMEs can engage with ForTaMP by contacting a Business Development Manager at or using the CPI website contact page here.

Interested in learning more about the ways CPI and ForTaMP can support your business? Register to attend their virtual meeting on 13 October 2020 by clicking the link below.

Register to attend CPI’s virtual meeting

Additional support available for medtech SMEs at CPI

In addition to the ERDF ForTamP programme, CPI offers a wide range of support for medtech SMEs on a commercial basis and through funded CR&D projects.

Healthcare is a complex landscape where evidence matters. CPI work closely with experts in health economics and clinical networks, including the Academic Health Science Network, to leverage relevant expertise and enable SMEs to optimise the value of their device throughout the patient-care pathway.

CPI also help SMEs to demonstrate necessary compliances to progress medtech devices towards clinical trials.

These include electrical and safety standards, in addition to technology validation through the ethically approved use of human tissue samples, handling of live cell cultures, and the use of radionuclides within their radiation suite.

Once a medtech device is ready for clinical trials, CPI can leverage its relationship with regional NHS trusts to grant SMEs access to a large, diverse patient population.

Throughout this entire process, medtech SMEs will benefit from access to CPI’s technology expertise, such as manufacturing process optimisation, material science, nanotechnology and more, as well as access to CPI’s extensive facilities and equipment, which can be used for proof-of-concept, feasibility studies, prototyping and scale-up. 

About CPI

CPI is a UK based technology innovation centre and the process element of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult.

Established to support the UK process manufacturing industry, CPI collaborates with companies of all sizes to help overcome innovation challenges in the development of next-generation products and processes. 

Operating across a broad range of technologies, we support our partners at every step of the supply chain, helping to translate ideas from concept to market.

New Directors of the Centre for Responsive HealthTech Innovation announced

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Professors Alejandro Frangi and David Jayne have been appointed as the first joint Directors of the new Centre for Responsive HealthTech Innovation.

The Centre is a partnership initiative between the University of Leeds and the Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust and will bring together scientists, clinicians and industry partners to deliver world-leading, cross-disciplinary research, driven by clinical grand challenges, that ultimately delivers value-based innovation to improve outcomes for patients and populations.

The Directors, together with a cross-institutional Executive Leadership Team and Research and Innovation support from Saeeda Bashir, will deliver an exciting programme of research based on a vision to transform Leeds into one of the most connected, innovation-driven, and challenge-led HealthTech ecosystems that drive global transformations in healthcare. 

It will have value-based innovation at its heart and respond rapidly to changing socio-economic needs, accelerating the transformation of innovation to deliver equitable, sustainable and responsible healthcare for all.

Professor Alejandro Frangi

Professor Alejandro (Alex) Frangi graduated in Electrical Engineering from Universitat Politènica de Catalunya, Barcelona, completing his PhD in Radiological Imaging Sciences at Utrecht University Medical Centre, The Netherlands. He held previous academic appointments in Zaragoza, Barcelona, and Sheffield. 

Alex joined the University of Leeds in 2018 as Diamond Jubilee Chair in Computational Medicine with joint appointments in the Schools of Computing and Medicine.

In 2019, he was awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging Technologies. He works across computational medical imaging and computational physiology.

He holds honorary appointments in KU Leuven and Shenzhen University. He brings an international research profile in computational medicine, machine learning in imaging, and in silico clinical trials.

He served as Dean of the Escola Superior Politècnica (Universitat Pompeu Fabra), serves as Associate Editor of Prog Biomed Eng, IEEE Trans Medical Imaging, and Medical Image Analysis journals, and is IEEE, SPIE and EAMBES Fellow.

Professor David Jayne

Professor David Jayne graduated from University of Wales College of Medicine and undertook his surgical training in Manchester, Singapore and Leeds.

He was appointed Professor of Surgery in 2011, National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Research Professor in 2012, and Bowel Cancer UK and Royal College of Surgeons England (RCS Eng) Chair of Surgery in 2018.

He is an Honorary Consultant Colorectal Surgeon at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and University Associate Dean for the St James’s University Hospital and CAH campuses. 

As Clinical Director, David brings a world-leading clinical research track record in the development and evaluation of new surgical technologies.

He is Clinical Director for the Leeds NIHR MedTech Co-operative in Surgical Technologies, the Leeds NIHR Global Health Research Group in Surgical Technologies, and the RCS Eng. Surgical Trials Centre.

He has held leadership roles with several national funding bodies and currently serves on the NIHR i4i, NIHR Advanced Fellowship, and NIHR IAT committees.

This article was originally published by the University of Leeds. For more information, please contact the University of Leeds press office:

Free webinars teach innovators how to develop digital health solutions

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Mindwave, specialist developers of digital health and clinical research products and services, has released two webinars to support innovators who are developing a digital health solution. Both webinars are freely available to watch at any time and can be found below.

Webinar 1: How to build a successful website or mobile application for health research

This webinar helps university-based health researchers and clinical researchers in the NHS to understand the process for developing an effective app or website to support health research, and the benefits of partnering with an external design and development team.

Joined by Professor Jo Neale from Kings College London who’s recently worked with Mindwave to develop her own health research website, the webinar panel discuss important topics like:

You can watch the full webinar below:

Webinar 2: How to build a successful digital health product with a tech founder

Here, Mindwave Venture’s Chief Innovation Officer Dr Victoria Betton leads a discussion of five actionable insights which medtech entrepreneurs can use to develop a successful digital health product.

Guest speaker Arden Tomison, a founder of the digital health startup Thalamos, also provides a personalised account of how his company has used these same insights to build a successful venture.

You can watch the full presentation below:

If you’ve found these webinars helpful, you might also want to visit Mindwave’s blog for more informative guides and opinion pieces about developing digital health solutions.

If you need support in developing a medtech device, any of our Technology Innovation Managers would be happy to discuss your project and innovation support needs with you. You can read about each team members unique expertise and the type of support they can provide you with on their website profiles.

NPL’s Measurement for Recovery programme

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NPL is committed to supporting UK industry in its recovery by making its measurement and consultancy services available to companies, free of charge.

About the Measurement for Recovery programme

The programme can help solve analysis or measurement issues that cannot be resolved using standard technologies and techniques. Successful applicants can benefit from:

What is on offer


To be eligible to apply, you must be:

Learn more about what support is available through the Measurement for Recovery programme, and how to apply by clicking here.

Transformative technologies for patients and the NHS

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Simon Butler was previously a Grow MedTech Technology Innovation Manager, based at Sheffield Hallam University. He is now helping start-ups and businesses bringing health and wellbeing innovations to market in his new role as Head of the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) Wellbeing Accelerator.

The AWRC Wellbeing Accelerator is based in Sheffield Hallam University’s new Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, which houses over 3,000 square meters of specialist facilities including 3D printers and laser cutters for rapid prototyping, laboratories for product testing, a clinical research centre, and support networks. 

In this article, Simon shares his thoughts on supporting the commercialisation of assistive and rehabilitative technologies. 

It’s clear that demand on the NHS is growing and our health services are under increasing pressure. New technologies aren’t a panacea for this problem, but they can certainly help – in particular assistive and rehabilitative technologies. 

There will always be a cohort of patients who, because of disease or trauma, need help to recover and resume their lives as before. For this cohort, there’s no doubt that an assistive or rehabilitative technology can be completely transformative. 

But there is another rapidly growing cohort – that of an increasingly ageing population – where new assistive and rehabilitative technologies can help the NHS to deal with the pressure this creates.

As people live longer, but not always in good health, the impact of disease and disability is increasing the burden on the NHS. 

Rehabilitative technologies that can help these patients remain mobile, independent and healthier not only transform their lives, but relieve our health services as well. 

Stroke recovery 

I’ve been supporting one such project at Sheffield Hallam University that brings together physiotherapists, stroke physicians, physical activity and exercise specialists and computer scientists to improve rehabilitation for people with stroke.

The team, led by Professor Chris Smith, has been working with a local company which makes power-assisted exercise equipment, to enable people with limited mobility to do physical exercise.  

One problem with the machines for rehab purposes was that they didn’t tell users how much effort they were putting in and how much was being generated by the machine, so patients couldn’t see how they were improving. 

The Sheffield Hallam team, using a Grow MedTech Proof of Feasibility grant, is developing an exercise programme for the machines based on clinical principles, that will help people with stroke to increase their endurance and strength.

They’re also developing bespoke software for the machines, that will integrate the exercise programme and provide feedback to users. 

The project has been working with patients to develop the programme and software, and the system will be trialled with 15 stroke patients, and then further refined based on their experience. 

Positive feedback 

Exercise programmes can be hard to maintain when patients are not seeing any improvement and this can demotivate them to maintain exercise regimes or lifestyle changes. 

It is also important to be able to monitor certain conditions that affect movement, such as osteoarthritis. With a long-term progressive disease such as this, it can be hard to accurately monitor how a patient is doing over time.

A project led by Dr Adar Pelah at the University of York, and involving a team of academics, clinicians and an industrial partner, is using gait analysis (pictured above) to look at how the way a patient walks changes when the patient develops musculoskeletal disorders such as osteoarthritis.

Whilst the technology has value as a diagnostic tool, being able to pick up the condition at an early stage, it can also be used to monitor how the disease is progressing and if there are any improvements, perhaps due to a lifestyle change or therapy.

This gives doctors the evidence to select the most appropriate treatment and encourage patients to, for example, continue to lose weight or carry on with an exercise programme.   

The team, which involves the University of York and Cambridge University Hospitals, used Grow MedTech funding to carry out a market appraisal and identify the best routes to commercialisation.

They also received a grant from the Medical Research Council to carry out a clinical trial – currently underway at Addenbrookes Hospital and in York.

The ultimate aim is to create a handheld device that can be used easily by GPs or nurses, with patients simply walking across the room without the need for any specialist equipment. 

Making recovery fun 

Of course, it’s not only older people who benefit from rehabilitative and assistive technologies – many are developed for children too.  

Children in particular can struggle to maintain physiotherapy exercises when recovering from injury or disease. By their very nature, these are repetitive and even for adults can be pretty tedious.  

A team from Sheffield Hallam University have found a way to make such exercises more fun and encourage repetition by turning them into a virtual reality (VR) game

Using a Proof of Concept grant, the team, led by Ivan Phelan, has been working with patients and health professionals to develop a suite of VR games to support upper limb rehabilitation in children and adults, for use in the clinic and at home. 

The games can include climbing a tower or pulling an arrow from a quiver, putting it into a bow and shooting at a target. 

These are now being tested by patients both in the clinic, at Sheffield Children’s Hospital and Leeds Teaching Hospitals, and at home.

We’re also working with the team to develop a business plan and market assessment to identify potential industry collaborators to take the technology forward. 

Putting patients first 

A common thread for all these technologies is that they have developed their prototypes in a user-centred way, involving the patients right from the start. 

I’m a firm believer – and of course, it’s a central philosophy at Grow MedTech – that all technologies, even those that patients might never see, like a surgical scalpel, should involve patients in their development.

The reason is simple – it’s ultimately patients who will be affected once these technologies come into use. One big difference with rehabilitative and assistive technologies is that patients are usually the ones physically touching the technologies, not the clinicians. 

This makes it much easier for those developing the technologies, as patients are keener to be involved in projects where they can see an immediate connection for them. 

A good example of this is a project at the University of Huddersfield which is involving patients – children – at a really early stage. Dr Sohel Rana is an expert in materials science, working with composites that involve natural materials, such as cellulose or basalt. 

Although he usually works with the aeronautics, motor manufacturing and construction sectors, he’s now applying his expertise to look at prosthetics for children who have had lower limbs amputated.

Many prosthetics for children are just mini versions of those created for adults, but in fact, they need different properties.  Thanks to help from Grow MedTech, Dr Rana has teamed up with Devices4Dignity who already have a patient group. 

Together, they are working with children to find out what properties they like and want, in terms of strength, flexibility and weight, so Dr Rana can tailor a material to match. 

Rehabilitative and assistive technologies are an exciting field to work in, precisely because of the amazing impact they can have on patient’s lives.

And that transformation should also result in big changes to how healthcare can be delivered and how effective it can be, helping our hard-pressed NHS as well. 

New medtech sensor could speed up blood tests for COVID patients

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Researchers from the University of York are developing handheld biosensors with the potential to deliver fast, real-time blood test results for patients including those suffering from COVID-19 with secondary infections such as pneumonia.

The technology, developed with Grow MedTech support, uses laser interferometry – where two beams of light merge to create an interference pattern – to detect proteins such as procalcitonin, the level of which increases in blood when a patient has a bacterial infection.

The researchers have shown the technology is viable and are now exploring routes to scaling it up. They expect to start the first patient trials in the next 24 months. 

Simplicity and low cost

Lead author of the study, Isabel Barth, from the Department of Physics at the University of York said: “Great progress has already been achieved with biosensors based on nanotechnology, yet very few sensors obtain high performance while also ensuring simplicity and low cost.

To accomplish this valuable combination, we developed a highly sensitive sensor based on the interference of light and eliminated sources of noise without increasing complexity.”

Senior author of the study, Professor Thomas Krauss, from the Department of Physics at the University of York, added: “Laser interferometry is one of the most sensitive ways of measurement known in Physics and our study paves the way for this technology to be incorporated into a handheld biosensor device. Our work to develop this device has the potential to save lives by significantly speeding up the diagnostic process.”

Currently, COVID patients and patients with other viral infections who have suspected secondary infections have to wait for blood samples to be sent away to a lab for analysis. The technology could cut time delays as well as costs, while delivering testing of the same or even better quality.

“The technology also has the potential to detect multiple disease biomarkers as well as antibodies in one small sample of blood, which would significantly improve the reliability of any diagnosis.”

Antimicrobial resistance

In developing the sensor, the researchers aim to provide a tool that can help general practitioners in their decision making. For example, in most patients who present symptoms of infections, it is difficult for doctors to decide whether their symptoms are caused by a viral or bacterial infection –knowledge which is crucial to reducing the unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics and the spread of antimicrobial resistance.

Isabel Barth added: “The high sensitivity of our sensor might in the future also enable a very precise and fast diagnosis outside of a GP practise – for example in a Pharmacy.

“These exciting results would not have been possible without the contributions from our interdisciplinary team of Electronic Engineers, Chemists and Biologists and the strong support and advice from clinical collaborators at York Hospital.”

This article was first published by the University of York, click here to read the original, unedited copy.

Using light for accurate diagnosis

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Early and accurate diagnosis can make the difference between life and death. But for many diseases, diagnostic tools that can pick up disease at an early stage either do not exist, are imprecise or are limited to use in hospitals and specialist centres.  

Grow MedTech is supporting Dr Yvette Hancock, Associate Professor from the University of York’s School of Physics and Enterprise Fellow at the Centre for Future Health, to develop a diagnostic tool with the potential to work across a range of diseases and in different healthcare settings.

The tool uses a technique called Raman spectroscopy to analyse blood samples, whereby carefully controlled laser light is beamed at the sample and interacts with the molecules within it. 

This interaction changes the signature of the light that scatters back, providing a ‘molecular fingerprint’ of what the sample contains. 

Dr Hancock has been working with clinical teams and academic partners at Guy’s Hospital and King’s College, London, as well as the instrumentation company Horiba UK, to develop a portable Raman spectrometer that could be used in a clinical setting.

But with so many potential applications for the technology, the team turned to Grow MedTech to help them identify the best route for clinical application and commercialisation. 

Market analysis 

Grow MedTech Proof of Market funding allowed Dr Hancock to commission the York Health Economics Consortium to assess the potential markets and health-benefit potential for the technology. Based on this analysis, the team decided to focus its efforts initially on prostate cancer. 

Prostate cancer is currently screened using the PSA blood test and a GP examination. Because the PSA test has limited accuracy, it can lead to further testing such as a biopsy, which can have adverse side-effects, as well as late diagnosis when cancer is missed.  

“We wanted to develop the technology to have the biggest impact possible and prostate cancer is an urgent area of need,” explains Dr Hancock.

“It is the second most common cause of cancer death for men in the UK, with around 48,000 men diagnosed each year, and with incidence rates on the rise. 

But our ability to accurately screen for it is still pretty poor, so an easy and accurate test would be a gamechanger for detecting prostate cancer at the earliest stage possible.” 

Dr Hancock is now developing the diagnostic tool to not only accurately pick up cases of prostate cancer, but also to identify whether the cancer is an aggressive type and to what stage the disease has progressed, allowing for the best possible means of early detection of the disease. 

Clinical studies 

She has already proven that the technology can accurately diagnose prostate cancer in human cells in the laboratory. Grow MedTech is now helping to fund two studies to validate the technology in blood samples.

The first is a clinical trial at Guy’s Hospital in London, testing the technology against samples from prostate cancer patients. A parallel control study is underway at the University of York with samples from healthy donors. 

“Grow MedTech have been crucial in taking this project forward,” says Dr Hancock. “We’d already built a strong team, with industrial, clinical and academic partners, but the market analysis we gained through Grow MedTech was critical in helping us to focus our efforts more effectively. 

The clinical trial, if successful, will help us take the technology to the next stage.”  

Impact of COVID-19 on researchers and the UK research base

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The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has commissioned the Careers Research & Advisory Centre (CRAC) and Vitae, supported by UKRI and Universities UK, to evidence and understand the implications of COVID-19 on the activities of researchers and research groups.

Within this, CRAC/Vitae is running an online survey to record the experiences of researchers to understand the ways that the pandemic and mitigating strategies, such as social distancing, are impacting on their work.

This evidence will inform BEIS’s consideration and design of potential interventions to help protect researchers, research institutions and facilities, and in the longer term reinforce the research base and sustain research and innovation activity in the UK.  

All researchers employed in UK universities, research institutes, charities and companies are invited to respond to the survey. The survey organisers are particularly interested to hear from principal investigators and leaders of research groups.

You can access the survey here, the deadline to respond is Tuesday 9 June 2020.

The organisers would be very grateful if respondents could forward the survey link on to researchers in your organisation to ensure that they receive as many responses as possible.

If you need further information about the survey or this project, contact Janet Metcalfe at Vitae.

Free online medtech courses available with Future Learn

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The University of Leeds has launched five new free online learning courses focusing on medtech. These are available to anyone and can be completed as a series or as standalone units.

Available modules:

Register your interest now by clicking on the above links. For any queries, visit the Future Learn website.