New IKC guide launched for knowledge exchange professionals to maximise innovation success

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The guide introduces a new, holistic approach to proof-of-concept schemes for any sector.

The Medical Technologies IKC and Grow MedTech has launched their final good practice guide for knowledge exchange and commercialisation (KEC) practitioners.

‘Bridging the innovation funding gap: Maximising proof of concept success’ explains how proof of concept grants enable academic researchers – with input from industry and support from an in-house sector specialist – to demonstrate that their idea has economic potential and can lead to real user benefits.

Launching at the annual Praxis Auril conference in Brighton through an interactive, digital exhibition stand, the guide will be premiered to a world-leading professional association for UK Knowledge Exchange practitioners. The guide will also be hosted by PraxisAuril in its online resources area, available to anyone with an interest in KEC whether they are members of association or not.

“We know that researchers are increasingly expected to cross the valley of death between research and successful innovation as they seek to bring basic research to the market” says Tamsin Mann, Director of Policy & Communications for Praxis Auril. “We’re thrilled the guides on proof of concept will be launched at our conference and highlighted to our members to support towards this goal.”

“Our team have developed a successful approach to innovation over the last 13 years” says Rowan Grant, Communications and Engagement Manager for the Medical Technologies IKC and Grow MedTech. “We wanted share our learning on how to source and select the most promising research projects for proof of concept funding, and how to support them projects to ensure a maximum chance of success. Whilst our approach was developed for the commercialisation of medical technologies, it’s relevant to other sectors too, so we are really excited to be launching it at this specialist conference in person.”

The guide is available as an accessible, interactive PDF for both desktop and mobile, and can be viewed in a web browser or downloaded to the users’ own resource library. It offers step by step advice on how to maximise value from a POC scheme in user friendly infographics and illustrations.

The second part of the guide is a case study of the Medical Technology IKC’s successful approach to innovation.

Visit the ‘Bridging the innovation funding gap: Maximising proof of concept success’ webpage now (opens new window).

About the Medical Technologies IKC and Grow MedTech

Since 2009, the University of Leeds has been working with UK HEIs to accelerate technologies closer to market through the Medical Technologies Innovation and Knowledge Centre (IKC), funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (UKRI EPSRC). Over the years, we have developed a unique innovation infrastructure, a team of experienced professional innovation and IP managers, and successful innovation and evaluation methods to advance medical technologies and remove uncertainty and risk.

Our approach has enabled us to deliver a large portfolio of proof of concept projects. By de-risking technologies at an early stage, we’ve opened the door to over £200m private sector investment to progress technologies towards commercialisation. Most of this investment – £148 million – has supported seven start-up companies established to take the technologies forward, while the remainder has supported work by established industry partners. This investment has enabled new products to be developed and manufacturing facilities to be established in the UK, the European Union, Switzerland and the USA.

Other organisations, including the medical charity Versus Arthritis, have also partnered with us, to apply our approach to their research funding programmes.

• 7 spinout and start-up companies created and supported
• Enabled £200m downstream private sector investment into the private sector
• 267 proof-of-concept, technology development and demonstration projects
• … 84 have progressed beyond TRL 4
• 50+ different products and services reaching the market

In 2018, the team won funding from Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund to replicate our approach to innovation as part of a consortium of six universities in the Leeds and Sheffield City Region, called Grow MedTech. The consortium comprised the universities of Bradford, Huddersfield, Leeds, Leeds Beckett, Sheffield Hallam and York.

In 2015, we won an award through Office for Students for Translate MedTech, to enhance and embed medical technology innovation know-how across the Leeds and Sheffield City Regions.

The Translate MedTech programme led a targeted innovation development programme to enhance innovation awareness, understanding and capacity. From 2018 to 2021 the programme was funded by the partner universities themselves to run alongside and enhance the support Grow MedTech was offering.

Exclusive e-learning for aspiring medtech entrepreneurs launches online

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Do you have a medtech idea but unsure of how to progress it? Are you confused by Medical Device Regulations?

Translate MedTech have developed two free and exclusive online courses suitable for staff and students with an interest in medtech: giving an overview of medical device regulations, how to ensure your device meets a real-world need, and some of the common pitfalls in product development.

Each course is broken into digestible chapters, and lasts a total 30 minutes:

How to develop robust medical technology solutions to real problems

This course is an introduction to developing medical technologies, understanding the market opportunity, identifying unmet needs, intellectual property rights and more.

By the end of this course, you will be briefed with everything you need to know to develop robust medical technology solutions to real problems.

What academics need to know about the regulation of medical devices

This course is an introduction to the regulatory requirements for placing medical devices on the market and CE marking. It will help you to decipher all the regulatory jargon and understand the new Medical Device Regulations in Europe as well as UK legislation.

By the end of the course, you should be well set up to understand requirements and responsibilities, and plan your regulatory and clinical strategy.

These courses are exclusive to the Translate MedTech partners, and can be accessed via your individual institution:

University of Bradford:

How to develop robust medical technology solutions to real problems

What academics need to know about the regulation of medical devices

University of Bradford staff can access the course anytime via the link to the Percipio channel. If searching via the Percipio library the course can be found under ‘Custom courses/Translate Medical Technology development’. Please note this resource is not available to associate staff or students.

University of Huddersfield:

How to develop robust medical technology solutions to real problems

What academics need to know about the regulation of medical devices

University of Huddersfield staff and postgraduate researchers can access the course on the Researcher Environment Brightspace module using their university login details. Find using the direct link, navigate from Contents>Research Impact>Translate Medtech, or by searching for ‘MedTech’. For any problems with access, email for support. 

Leeds Beckett University:

How to develop robust medical technology solutions to real problems

What academics need to know about the regulation of medical devices

Leeds Beckett University staff can access the course at any time by logging in to People Development Online, using their normal University username and password, and launching the course via the system’s Training Library (the course is listed under ‘Other Courses’) 

University of Leeds:

How to develop robust medical technology solutions to real problems

What academics need to know about the regulation of medical devices

University of Leeds staff and students can easily access their account from the LinkedIn Learning login page using their normal University username and password. 

Sheffield Hallam University:

How to develop robust medical technology solutions to real problems

What academics need to know about the regulation of medical devices

Sheffield Hallam University staff and students can easily access their account from the LinkedIn Learning login page using their normal University username and password. 

University of York:

How to develop robust medical technology solutions to real problems

What academics need to know about the regulation of medical devices

University of York staff can access the training in the Learning Management System using these links.  Please note that this is not available to associate staff or students. 

Translate MedTech recognised in national skills report

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Translate MedTech have been recognised as a best-practice provider of training in digital health in a recent survey published by UKRI.

EPSRC’s Healthcare Technologies team, Innovate UK and the Knowledge Transfer Network published the results of two surveys this week, with over 80 respondents giving views on training currently available, and the knowledge and skills needed in digital health for the UK.

Translate MedTech was identified alongside other top training providers including Medipex, Medilink and the NHS Digital Academy.

The outcomes of the surveys will help inform how UKRI can support academic and business communities with the training and skills needed to develop digital health solutions.

You can read the full report on the UKRI website.

Sign up to our mailing list, and follow us on social media for the latest updates on our training programmes:



Entries now open: Medilink’s 25th Anniversary Celebration and Healthcare Business Awards

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Entries are now open for Medilink’s 25th Anniversary Celebration and Healthcare Business Awards on 12 May from 6:30pm.

This event reflects the strength in depth of the sector across the North and showcases the very best of collaboration between industry, academia and the NHS.

Why you should apply:

The deadline for applications is 28 February.

To submit your application, and purchase your event tickets, visit the Medilink website.

About my secondment: Edgars Kelmers

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In 2021, Edgars Kelmers (University of Leeds) was awarded a three month secondment with Medacta International, a hip and knee manufacturer based in Switzerland. Here he describes his experience through blog entries before, during and after the placement:

Aims and objectives

My name is Edgars Kelmers and I am currently a third year PhD student at the CDT in Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Medicine. My PhD project consists of designing, manufacturing, and testing of a “smart” knee implant for total knee joint replacements. In our households we already have smart phones, smart cars, even smart kettles, therefore this is a good time to bring in the latest technology also into the operating theatres. The next generation of smart implants will revolutionise surgeries by implementing sensors and electronics inside the implants. The ultimate goal of smart implants is to allow surgeons and patients to track the implant performance and assess patients’ health.

During my PhD research I have been focusing on mechanical design, computational modelling, and risk assessment of smart knee implants. As a design engineer I must consider many aspects of product development. For example, the implant must be practical and easy to use, it also has to be easy to manufacture, safe, sterilizable, comply with medical regulations and the list goes on. As a student, I have limited knowledge, therefore spending time in an orthopaedics manufacturing company would help me to learn the best practice for medical product development

I have chosen to do a secondment at Medacta International in Switzerland. Medacta International is a fast‑growing company and it is the fifth largest hip and knee manufacturer in the world. This company has  vast experience in hip, knee, shoulder, spine, and sports medicine surgeries and provides with latest technology solutions, such as, custom 3D-printed cutting guides and augmented reality surgery planning.

This is a great opportunity for me to learn about various joint replacement surgeries and product development. Such knowledge will help with my further PhD research and future career as a medical device design engineer.

Work in progress

I have just completed two weeks out of my four-week internship at Medacta International. It has been great so far. I had a tour around the manufacturing facilities and the engineering departments. The company has amazing facilities. It was great to see how Medacta’s manufacturing techniques combine conventional machining with modern 3D-printing technologies of metal and plastics to produce a vast range of products.

Medacta is based in Switzerland, near the border with Italy, making it a very multicultural place. English is the business language, and it is very practical since engineers like me of a different nationality can easily communicate about the work.

My role so far has been to create Finite Element Analysis computational models. At the University of Leeds I have been using Abaqus software, whilst during my time at Medacta I am learning Ansys and 3Dexperience. This has been an incredible opportunity for me, since companies usually tend to use only one of the named software. This work experience allows me to broaden my skills. In the future I would be able to apply for a job in any engineering company, because now I will have work experience with the three most popular engineering modelling software.

As a student it is always daunting to think about the future, because one can never know what skill set will be required. This internship has shown me that many years ago I made the right choice by studying programming and computational modelling. With my existing knowledge and previous experience, I was able the bring value to the company.


I enjoyed my time at Medacta International. I felt welcomed at the company and I was given the best environment to learn and develop new skills. For a student, particularly in the current COVID times, it is difficult to find an internship opportunity. Therefore, I am very happy that I was given this rare opportunity to work at Medacta International.

The highlight of my secondment was the opportunity to work on Finite Element Analysis computational models for the entire duration of my four-week placement. As the saying goes “practice makes perfect” and luckily for me, I was given a lot of practice. Within my placement I performed a number of different computational models, which will be used to validate product performance and safety.

Besides computational work, I was also keen to learn about other aspects of the medical industry. I was taught about the CE marking process in the EU, I got training on the latest Medical Device Regulations, and I could discuss the general differences between the EU and the USA market. Furthermore, I learned about the workflow for design and development process for any new products. My training was varied, and I could interact with various engineers from the R&D and Regulations department.

This placement has given me a new perspective on my own PhD research. During my placement, I realised that throughout my own PhD research I have developed not one but three highly useful skills: inventing a new medical device, developing new testing methods, and development of FEA models. After three years of relentless studies, I was finally able to realise that my own research could already benefit medical companies and make their daily work easier. I would highly recommend all students gain industry experience at some point in their lives, because it would benefit them both with their academic and professional aspirations.

I would like to say thank you to the Translate MedTech programme, without their support I would have never been able to fly all the way to Switzerland to gain an amazing work experience. I also want to thank all the employees at Medacta International for their help, especially Dario Allegretti and Alessio Beccari, who put a great effort into supervising me.

10 Steps to building an effective multi-partner consortium

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This free collection of animated insights introduces approaches to building a successful multi-partner consortium.

By combining the different strengths of our partner universities in medical and related digital technologies, innovation and commercialisation, we provided capacity and capability in medtech that far exceeded that offered by a single institution.

In this content we share our practices and approaches for building an effective consortium, which in our experience, enabled us to scale our activities more effectively.

1. Co-create your initiative from the earliest stage

2. Have a clear focus and remit

3. Bring parties together with a formal agreement

4. Develop an inclusive executive leadership structure

5. Co-recruit key roles

6. Use sector-specialist innovation managers

7. Agree values and ways of working

8. Agree approaches to allocating shared resources

9. Agree an approach to sharing data

10. Consider an independent brand

Grow MedTech: a successful multi-partner consortium case study

1. Co-create your initiative from the earliest stage

Build on strategic priorities and decide how partners can contribute complementary distinctive strengths.

In our experience…

At the University of Leeds we have a strong track record in medtech innovation and, over the past 12 years, have leveraged £150M private sector investment into the private sector for technologies we have supported. We wanted to look at how we could use our knowledge and experience to grow the quality and quantity of translational research opportunities emerging from a wider group of university partners in our region.

In 2015, five regional university partners (Universities of Bradford, Huddersfield, Leeds, Leeds Beckett and York) secured a HEFCE Catalyst grant to deliver Translate MedTech (a programme to develop capability in medtech innovation in the Leeds City region). This enabled us to build strong working relationships with the Research Innovation Office (RIO) teams, develop a network of engaged academics and have some early technology opportunities in the development pipeline.

These five university partners collaborated on delivering the medtech Science and Innovation Audit for the Leeds City Region in 2017. This led to a number of strategic working groups being set up to develop ideas for programmes and interventions, which kept us engaged and working together.

When the opportunity to apply to Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund arose, we were in a good position to quickly form a consortium so that we could all be involved in the development of the bid from the outset. We invited an additional partner – Sheffield Hallam University – into the consortium because they addressed a gap in user-centre design, which is crucial for successful medtech development, and we knew from past experience that they are really proactive collaborators.

2. Have a clear focus and remit

Understand the gaps for innovation in your sector, your strengths, and your external environment.

In our experience…

The development and commercialisation of medical technologies is challenged by two innovation funding gaps known as ‘valleys of death’.

The first occurs as technologies are developed from early stage research, and proof of commercial concept and reducing technology risk is needed to build the confidence of industry and investors and convince them to invest in developing technologies further.

The second occurs following the design and development of prototype devices and services, which need to be clinically evaluated before they can be further progressed.

We believed our new consortium – Grow MedTech – could apply its strengths to addressing the first funding gap by building collaborative cross-disciplinary teams to build late stage development and market viewpoints into the early stage technology development process.

As lead partner, Leeds has a strong track record of doing exactly this and we wanted to scale this across multiple institutions.

3. Bring parties together with a formal agreement

Give everyone the security of agreement over role and accountability for co-delivery of the programme.

In our experience…

We made it a priority for our contracts team to develop a consortium agreement that set out responsibilities and commitments to delivering the programme, which all partners signed. The time and effort it takes to do this should not be underestimated, but it gave all partners the security of agreement over roles and accountabilities for the co-delivery of a multi-million pound programme.

4. Develop an inclusive executive leadership structure

Build consistent and strong management relationships across all levels of governance.

In our experience…

It was essential that we agreed an inclusive executive leadership structure. Grow MedTech is somewhat unusual in that this leadership structure is driven entirely by Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation (KEC) managers. Each university was represented by a senior Research and Innovation (R&I) KEC or business development manager (depending on partner infrastructure). We agreed there would be no deputies because we wanted to build consistent and strong management relationships across the team. The Executive Group met quarterly and, bearing in mind that medtech is just a portion of what these managers are responsible for, attendance was consistently excellent – which suggests they found value in taking part.

5. Co-recruit key roles

Agree a core role description blueprint to adapt according to partners’ own organisation standards; co-shortlist, and include partners on interview panels.

In our experience…

Effective delivery of the programme hinged on the specialists who would be on the ground, working with the academics to de-risk their technologies. To ensure we all recruited the candidates with the most appropriate skills and experience needed as our Technology Innovation Managers (TIMs), we agreed a core role description blueprint which partners used to develop role profiles that were consistent with their institutional standards. Each university then invited other partners to support the recruitment process by including them in short-listing and on interview panels.

We found recruiting sector-specific posts to be challenging: we required industry experience and were aware that our pay scales may not be equivalent to those in the private sector. We were not willing to compromise and if we didn’t find the right candidate, we advertised again.

Technology Innovation Managers were co-recruited by the consortium to carry out Grow MedTech’s day-to-day innovation and translation activities. There was one employed by each partner, they usually sat in the R&I, commercialisation or business development team of the university (depending on local structure) and they reported to the partner’s Executive Group member.

Critically, although geographically distributed, the TIMs worked together as a single team and meet regularly. It was the TIMs who interfaced directly with the technology development stakeholders.

6. Use sector-specialist innovation managers

Recruit personnel with sector-specific experience and know-how who can share experience of product development and complex regulatory processes.

In our experience…

The role of the Technology Innovation Manager has proved to be key to the delivery of a successful translation programme. The role was created and tested originally through our EPSRC MedTech Innovation and Knowledge Centre.

For us, scaling translational capability meant recruiting and embedding more Technology Innovation Managers into our innovation system.

By co-recruiting a team with complementary skills, each university partner effectively had access to six innovation specialists rather than one. Opportunities and challenges were shared across the TIM team at their regular meetings and cooperatively addressed, and TIMs stepped in to support projects across any of the partner universities depending on the skills required.

The people supporting academics through translational processes are those who make or break the success of the programme. The needs of the sector must be very clear and reflected in role descriptions. For us, experience of working in the medtech industry was key so that TIMs could share their experience of product development and the complex regulatory processes required around medtech with their academics.

They were not easy posts to recruit to as they required specialist knowledge and experience – and in several cases we advertised more than once to secure the right person to the role.

7. Agree values and ways of working

Develop a Team Charter which sets out key principles and accountabilities.

In our experience…

As well as being aware of our commitments and obligations through the consortium agreement, we believe it was important to agree values and ways of working, which everyone in the team would sign up to. We developed a Team Charter which lays out our vision, aims, authority and accountability, ways of working, collaboration and knowledge sharing, resources, support and infrastructure and values. In the latter, our over-arching principle is that team members will operate in the best interests of the programme at all times.

8. Agree approaches to allocating shared resources

Develop a robust, fair and transparent process to ensure strategic investment into the most promising technologies rather than a simple, equal split.

In our experience…

One of the potentially challenging areas in any collaboration is appropriate division and allocation of resources. Grow MedTech secured a substantial technology development fund and we agreed as a consortium, that the funding would be invested strategically in the most promising technology opportunities. This meant that rather than simply dividing the money equally between partners, applying for project funding was a truly competitive process.

To make this work, we developed a robust, fair and transparent process:

The six Technology Innovation Managers jointly agreed allocation of small pots of funding (up to £5K) – for example, Proof Market projects.

Larger projects requiring Proof of Feasibility and Proof of Concept were managed through structured funding call processes with all applications reviewed by an Opportunities Management Panel of independent sector specialist experts. This panel included UKRI, NHS innovation representatives, industry sector representation through Medilink, IP and patent legal expertise and patient involvement representatives.

The panel’s combined input ensured that the process was fair and robust – and in addition, the detailed feedback they provided to both successful and unsuccessful applications helped academics make decisions about how to take their technologies forward.

9. Agree an approach to sharing data

Ensure cross-HEI knowledge sharing, file sharing and record keeping infrastructure is available.

In our experience…

To enable data sharing for monitoring, reporting, business relationship and programme management purposes, we commissioned a bespoke, central project management database which the Chief Information Officers of each partner approved. Use of this database was strictly controlled to a limited number of named individuals, approved by the Executive Group, and each partner had access.

10. Consider an independent brand

Develop commitment to the programme at every level through the use of an independent brand – rather than that of the lead HEI.

In our experience…

Consortium programme branding can often sit within the communication and branding channels of host HEIs. We have found that by creating something independent, which complements and acknowledges all partner HEI branding, partners and the whole community are more committed to achieving collective targets than supporting solely the interests of their host institution.

In addition, TIMs have found it easier to operate under a shared brand which is not their own institution, for example, when communicating disappointing news around funding decisions.

Grow MedTech: a successful multi-partner consortium case study

Grow MedTech – funded through the Research England Connecting Capability Fund 2017-2021 – has been a major UK programme providing specialist support for innovation in medical technologies, involving a consortium of six universities across the Leeds and Sheffield City Regions. Our sector-specialist innovation support has helped to put these regions at the forefront of the UK’s medtech sector.

Acting as partnership brokers, we have proactively connected people from academia, industry and clinical practice to collaborate on developing new medical technologies. Our six skilled and experienced technology innovation managers have been based in our partner universities but have worked collectively as a team, connecting with academics, companies and clinicians from across the regions. We aspire to involve patients at every stage of the journey.

We have provided funding for technologies from initial concepts at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 2 and 3 through to proof of commercial concept at TRL 5. We have also provided support for projects at TLR 5+. More importantly, academics and companies have accessed sector-specialist expertise and advice to help them progress their technologies, create effective partnerships and leverage additional funding from other sources. We have helped projects bring together different disciplines and technologies – including digital and AI – to enable our partners to access the strongest market opportunities.

Grow MedTech’s collaboration between the Universities of Bradford, Huddersfield, Leeds Beckett, Sheffield Hallam and York, led by the University of Leeds, now has a track record in highly successful innovation support and our model and processes can be used as good practice in other sectors and regions.

Case studies on our technology development projects can be found on our bulletin page.

Supporting regional innovation alongside a national partnership

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Dr Jo Dixon-Hardy is the Director of Grow MedTech based at the University of Leeds. In this article, she discusses how we used our experience delivering a national programme, to benefit innovation at a regional level.

Grow MedTech is based on a regional partnership and is – as the saying goes – greater than the sum of its parts. By combining the strengths of six universities, the programme can provide far more than any one institution alone.

But we’ve learned vital lessons from pre-existing national partnerships, in particular the Medical Technologies Innovation and Knowledge Centre (IKC), funded through the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Having oversight of both the IKC and Grow MedTech has allowed us to capitalise on shared expertise while leveraging the differences between us, to the advantage of both programmes.

Technology and geography

Regional and national partnerships respond to different needs and agendas, but having the IKC and Grow MedTech, with linked programme Translate, running in parallel and seeding across each other, has been of benefit to all.

A national footprint requires world-class expertise and facilities, usually in a very specific area. The IKC, for example, focuses on innovation in regenerative devices. With this defined technology area, you need to cast your net across a wider geographical area to engage with enough relevant partners – particularly in industry. Partners are also more willing to connect with programmes outside their immediate geography, if doing so gives them access to more specialised knowhow.

A regional partnership like Grow MedTech has a smaller geographical footprint, and covers a wider range of expertise. Our remit was to build regional capability in knowledge exchange across the six partner universities, working with the 250 or so medtech companies in the region. As a consequence, our technology scope needed to be much broader than the IKC and was open to any kind of medical technology (excluding pharmaceuticals).

When we widened our scope, we built collaborations with multiple regional initiatives to address gaps in the Grow MedTech skills base. For example, Medipex brings knowledge of and access to the NHS, Medilink represents the Healthcare Technology sector, providing a good understanding of company needs as well as sector specialist expertise in regulation and commercialisation. The Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network brings a deep understanding of the needs of healthcare systems and the partnerships and interventions required to address these. All three are represented on the Grow MedTech Opportunities Management Panel, as well as engaging extensively in technology development projects and skills development provision. Other organisations, such as the Leeds NIHR Medtech and in vitro diagnostics Co-operatives (MICs), bring sub-sector insights, such as surgical technologies and in vitro diagnostics. They have partnered with Grow MedTech in different ways – for example in joint funding calls, as co-development partners on technology development projects and in training delivery.

Lessons learned

The two programmes stimulate each other. We’ve achieved a great deal in three years with Grow MedTech precisely because we had nine years’ experience of delivering the IKC to draw on. Through the IKC, we developed, iterated and tested our innovation processes. Grow MedTech was able to build on this model of experience to develop approaches that would align with the needs of universities and the wider medtech community in the Leeds and Sheffield City regions.

The IKC demonstrated the importance of bringing businesses together with world-class experts, accelerating the commercial development of new medical technology products and services. By bringing people together from different but complementary disciplines and with different technology development knowhow, the IKC showed how technologies can be de-risked to accelerate the development process. With Grow MedTech, we brought together a team of people – our Technology Innovation Managers – with different but complementary experience of the medtech industry, product development, or innovation management. They were able to use this combined knowledge and expertise to support and mentor academics and their collaborators in de-risking their technologies.

With each based in one of each of the six partner universities, the team was able to extend its reach into the academic communities of all six universities and the wider industrial networks. In return, this medtech community was able to access the breadth and depth of innovation expertise of all six Technology Innovation Managers. Feedback from academics and their collaborators tells us that this support has made a big difference in identifying the questions they need to address to progress their technologies effectively and efficiently.

Shared partners

Partnerships have been important for both the IKC and Grow MedTech. For example, Versus Arthritis first partnered with the IKC in order to access knowledge exchange expertise. We work with them to deliver their medical technology funding calls and manage the funded projects on their behalf. Although they are a national charity, they’ve also been involved with Grow MedTech and Translate, helping us with patient and public involvement, providing secondments and running training workshops.

Many organisations collaborate in some form with Grow MedTech and with IKC, but the relationship between the programmes’ partners is a special one. Partners are invested in the process: they share accountability and have bought into the vision. They’ve agreed the objectives and they commit to sharing and delivering the targets. Partners are usually involved from the inception of a programme, but some may join later and become truly invested – as Sheffield Hallam have done as a latecomer to Translate.

Mutual benefit

It might be natural to assume that only a national programme can have a national profile – but with IKC, Translate and Grow MedTech we have shown how the three activities stimulate and support each other. The IKC has been instrumental in many important strategic regional developments, and our regional programmes have helped us engage on the national and international stage.

For example, the IKC led the Science Innovation Audit in the Leeds City Region, published by BEIS in 2017, which identified a series of targeted opportunities for developing the Leeds City Region medtech sector and supporting the industry across the UK. As well as increasing awareness of the region’s strength in medtech, it started to cement relationships between key medtech stakeholders in the region, leading to, for example, the signing of a memorandum of understanding in 2019 between the region’s universities, the Association of British Healthtech Industries, the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership. This MOU commits the signatories to work together to accelerate healthcare innovation.

Similarly, when the Leeds City region put itself forward to host a global workshop as part of MIT’s Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme (MIT REAP), it was the regional Translate programme, which provided a tangible demonstrator of how the region was working together, which was instrumental to the to the bid being successful. Leeds went on to host a MIT-REAP workshop which saw regional leaders from eight other countries come to Leeds to work together on innovation and entrepreneurship.

The connections between IKC, Grow MedTech and Translate have shown us how each of these programmes benefits from the alignment of the others.

About my secondment: Oliver Vickers

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In 2021, Oliver Vickers (University of Leeds) was awarded a three month secondment opportunity with You Understood, a technology start-up aiming to improve mental health and wellbeing through the creation of a mobile app. Here he describes his experience through blog entries from before, during and after the placement:

Aims and objectives

My placement is with You Understood; an app developer looking to build a mobile app that will track the emotions and moods of its users. By using artificial intelligence and data analytics the app aims to feed back insights to the user on patterns in their behaviour and mental wellbeing.

As this is a digital technology-led start-up, I am hoping to gain valuable experience in how a start-up company is formed and successfully run. Furthermore, it will give me the refreshing opportunity to work on a new project and give me the chance to broaden my field of knowledge. I’d also like the opportunity to translate my knowledge and experience from my involvement in mental health schemes and initiatives, into a commercially available app that will provide comfort and benefit to its user.

Work in progress

The task I have been assigned involves researching and developing the application of gamification into the app. Now, gamification is a crude term to describe a method that retains the attention of the user and incentivises their continued use of the app.

One of the main themes of the app is that by actively tracking their mental health the user is making a conscious effort to make a better version of themselves. The app is data driven; data is inputted by the user and so the more data gathered on the user the more worthwhile the outputs. Therefore, maintaining the user’s interest and sustained use of the app is a very crucial aspect of the app’s design.


I have now completed my placement with You Understood. My final assignment was to present to the entire team what I had researched and learnt about gamification and how it could be included within the app. I also pitched some ideas I had formulated that would improve the user experience and provide more value to the users.

I really enjoyed the placement and felt my voice was heard and opinion valued. I was also grateful of the opportunity to experience work in an early-stage tech led start-up and see how such a company is structured and run.

Translate MedTech training courses for winter 2021

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Are you interested in medical device regulation? Want to know more about the NHS adoption pathway, market assessment or PPIE?

We are running three courses online as part of our winter 2021 programme of learning.

These sessions will give you an introduction to different aspects of medtech innovation, helping to navigate the pathway of NHS adoption, learn more about medical device regulation, and the importance of patient and public involvement and engagement (PPIE) in research.

NHS strategy and adoption/market assessment

22 and 23 November 9:30am – 12:30pm

This course will look at how to start innovating in the NHS context, and will provide you with the practical tools to assess your research for potential in a healthcare setting.

Using real case studies, we’ll explore how innovation works in the NHS, the opportunities and potential pitfalls to avoid when developing your research into something that can benefit patients.

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Regulatory affairs for medical devices

29 and 30 November 9:30am – 12:30pm

This course is an introduction to medical devices and the regulatory requirements for placing medical devices on the market and CE marking of devices.

It will help you to understand the regulatory path to CE marking a device, deciphering all the regulatory jargon and understanding the new Medical Device Regulations in Europe as well as the UK legislation.

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Patient and public involvement and engagement

9 December 9:30am – 12:30pm

This course aims to increase knowledge about how to involve patients, the public and carers in the development and delivery of medtech research.

The session will use hands on activities and examine real life case studies of effective PPIE methods.

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Low cost, flexible, proof of market funding: A good practice guide for successful innovation

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Fail fast or prove it early: Low cost, flexible, proof of market funding for successful innovation.

This free good practice guide introduces a low-cost funding award scheme for due diligence and de-risking at the earliest stages of innovation.

Grow MedTech’s first good practice guide explains how by investing small amounts of money into proof of market awards, opportunities can be de-risked so that the time of academics and knowledge exchange and commercialisation (KEC) practitioners – and university budgets – are not wasted in the short to long term future.

Use the interactive guide to proof of market awards

View and use our accessible, interactive PDF guide:

animation of people sharing ideas around a table

animation of people sharing ideas around a table

Proof of market awards toolkit for KEC practitioners

We have provided examples of the documentation we used to run our scheme for reference, which can be adapted by using your own branding and refining for your sector.

Guidance for applicants (opens new tab)

The guidance document sets out our proof of market scope, eligibility, assessment criteria and how to apply. Our guidance document was hosted on the Grow MedTech website for ease of access for applicants.

Application form (opens new tab)

The application form provides an example of the questions asked of the academic team to be assessed for suitability for funding.

Scoring criteria and scoring sheet (opens new tab)

The scoring criteria and scoring sheet outlines how we assessed applications for their suitability for the funding.

Request for quotation template (opens new tab)

The request for quotation template sets out the framework which our Technology Innovation Managers used to identify and contract expertise in medtech development to support funded projects.

Final project report form (opens new tab)

This template sets out a framework for reporting project outputs and outcomes, future plans, and reflections from the academic team on what went well, what could be improved and on the funding scheme process.

A note to knowledge exchange and commercialisation leaders and practitioners

As a Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation (KEC) practitioner in a Research Innovation Office (RIO) you play an important role in identifying the most promising projects for translation from a portfolio of potential opportunities. You may have academics heavily invested in their ideas and technologies, and excited about their potential applications and ability to change the world.

As a KEC practitioner you understand that to introduce and embed an idea or innovation into industry is a highly complex balance of many factors. Often, due to resource constraints, not all ideas presented to the research innovation office can be progressed or introduced to an industry partner, so it’s vital that the right level of due diligence is carried out to identify and support the most promising projects.

In our experience, by investing small amounts of money into proof of market awards, opportunities can be de-risked so that the time of academics and KEC practitioners – and university budgets – are not wasted in the short to long term future.

10 reasons to introduce low cost, flexible proof of market awards

This document is a fully accessible PDF, however if you require another format please get in touch at