As life expectancy increases, placing more demands on healthcare services, technological advances will need to bridge the growing NHS funding gap.
Scientific discoveries – from digital apps to robotics – must have easier and quicker routes into clinical practice if the NHS is to ensure patients benefit from early diagnostics, new medical devices and treatments.
To remove current barriers to entry, the UK’s first Centre for Healthcare Technologies was launched by The University of Nottingham and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust on Monday 29 February 2016.
Leading scientists, engineers and clinicians behind the Centre will support innovators through UK and international regulatory processes, evaluate product cost effectiveness, hone better designs and carry out user engagement studies.
Steve Morgan, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at The University of Nottingham explains: “In the past, innovators had to rely on an ad hoc, serendipitous process to commercialise their idea, but the Centre will act as a single point of entry to speed up the process of adoption without stifling innovation or compromising safety.”
The Centre’s aims strongly align with the Government’s national agenda to ensure the UK is the number one destination for medical innovation and product development.
Healthcare technology is a £17bn industry in the UK, which is predicted to grow by 10 per cent in the next decade. At the same time, the Midlands corridor is already home to 50 per cent of medical device companies in the UK. Nottingham, with its wealth of specialist experts, is therefore well-placed to host the new healthcare innovation hub.
Professor Dan Clark, head of Clinical Engineering at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We are one of the largest clinical engineering departments in the NHS, with strong existing relationships with biomedical engineers on our doorstep at the University. Together with industry partners, we will collaborate at the Centre to provide the right services and support to develop novel healthcare technology from concept to market.
“Being situated in Nottingham, we have links to many local med-tech companies, as well as clinical and academic expertise, and the Centre should enable us to tap into wider networks across the East Midlands and beyond.”
The Centre for Healthcare Technologies is supported by the East Midlands Academic Health Science Network and Medilink East Midlands.
Professor Morgan added: “In addition to better patient wellbeing, the Centre's links with industry, the EMAHSN and Medilink, will support UK manufacturing and the University's healthcare technology spin-out capabilities.
"The Centre also marks a great opportunity for our biomedical engineering students. We already run 10-week joint projects with clinical engineers on our MSc programmes and plan to expand this training to give our postgraduate students scope to work at the interface with clinicians and industry.”
The Centre launch event was opened by the Vice-Chancellor of The University of Nottingham, Sir David Greenaway and Peter Homa CBE, CEO of Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.
"Many healthcare breakthroughs come because engineers, clinicians and businesses have the same goal. MRI is one such example developed at Nottingham which went on to change the medical world. I hope the next MRI comes through this Centre," said the Vice-Chancellor.
Peter Homa said: “In my experience the collaboration between the University of Nottingham and Nottingham University Hospitals Trust is the strongest I have known.”
Guest speakers on the day were:
- John Wilkinson OBE – Director of Devices, Medical and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency
- Mirella Marlow – Programme Director, Devices and Diagnostic Systems, Centre for Health and Technology Evaluation, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)
- Chris Hart – Commercial Director, East Midlands Academic Health Science Network
- Dr Darren Clark – Chief Executive, Medilink East Midlands
- Elaine Anderson - Knowledge Transfer Manager, Biotechnology & Pharmacy The Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN)
- Sarah Ashwood – EPSRC Portfolio Manager
- Dr Ruth Nebauer – Assistant Director, Innovations Programmes, NIHR
- Dr Joanna Latimer - Programme Manager, Medical Research Council
For more information on the Centre for Healthcare Technologies visit: www.healthcaretechnologies.ac.uk