iMBE and EPSRC Centre awarded Academic Innovator by The Engineer

iMBE and EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Medical Devices (MeDe Innovation) won The Engineer magazine’s Academic Innovator award at the Collaborate to Innovate (C2I) Awards 2017.

Hosted by the Engineer Magazine, C2I is designed to inspire innovation in the medical devices sector and celebrate innovations in life-changing medical technology and the UK medical devices sector, which is one of the fastest-growing areas in the UK engineering economy.

The C2I 2017 conference took place in December at MTC Coventry, where winners of this year’s campaign presented their projects. Keynote speakers including former business secretary and current leader of the Liberal Democrats Sir Vince Cable.

MeDe Innovation - which is hosted and led by iMBE, University of Leeds, in partnership with five Universities and 39 industry collaborators - was awarded Best Collaboration in the Academic Innovator category, sponsored by BAE Systems.

The Centre’s director and medical engineer Professor John Fisher, University of Leeds, explained the Centre’s approach: “We conduct collaborative research, knowledge and technology translation which supports the whole, manufacturing chain that goes from product concept to patient delivery, providing a distinctive continuum of research and innovation which is created significant economic value and social and healthcare benefits”.

Professor Fisher also explained that one of the key challenges is responding to the rapid growth of the sector – there is a growing need for targeted treatments, interventions and devices, as well as a demographic shift towards a larger ageing population. Professor Fisher said: “The sector is going through a transformation… it’s not just about growth through conventional medical devices anymore.

“That’s where the research investment is so essential because we’re looking at things such as the convergence of technologies (combination devices that might involve physical devices with some biological function), as well as the digital enablement of devices, and how you target interventions much more precisely to patient needs.”

...research investment is so essential because we’re looking at things such as the convergence of technologies... as well as the digital enablement of devices, and how you target interventions much more precisely to patient needs.

While the centre’s  primary focus has been on musculoskeletal medical devices, technology convergence and industry needs mean that in the future it will also begin to move into other areas such as diagnostics – In particular, the use of wearable technology to enhance traditional treatments by monitoring rehabilitation and evaluating treatments.

The centre is also investigating improving more traditional devices such as replacement knee or hip joints. In one project, the group worked with Simulation Solutions and a major medical device manufacturer on the development of a pre-clinical hip joint simulator that can predict the function of a hip joint under a wider set of conditions and used to both improve the final product and enhance the precision of the surgery. This new pre-clinical test method is now going through final phases of approval and adoption as an international standard.

Collaborations with Simulation Solutions also led to the first-ever six-axis natural knee simulator for pre-clinical evaluation of regenerative scaffolds, which is now being applied to evaluate innovative tissue scaffolds and biomaterials in collaboration with NHS Blood and Transplant and industry partners. These unique simulation facilities are also supporting further fundamental research through the EPSRC Programme grant “Optimising Knee therapies” led by Professor Ruth Wilcox.

A further example of how this collaborative research and industry application supports and sustains further research has also been demonstrated by Dr Sophie Williams, School of Mechanical Engineering, is one of eight researchers to be awarded a grant by the EPSRC to address long-term health challenges through the development of innovative healthcare technologies for interventions in hip surgery earlier this year.

As the industry sector and the centre continues to move towards higher levels of precision in the innovative application and delivery of medical devices, the ability to create advanced simulation systems, both experimental and virtual, will become increasingly important in our ability to predict function and performance, to enable advancement  of design systems and preclinical evaluation methods.

About EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Medical Devices (MeDe Innovation)

Headquartered at the University of Leeds, EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Medical Devices boosts the medical devices sector’s vibrancy. Since its launch in 2013, its network of five universities has expanded to 42, with 39 industrial partners.

The Centre has brought together some of the UK’s top research groups and leading firms in an effort to advance expertise in medical device design and manufacture. 

About Collaborate to Innovate (C2I) 2017

C2I was launched to celebrate the UK’s most inspiring and innovative engineering collaborations. C2I 2017 showcases the breadth of UK engineering and links between business and the academic research. It highlights how specialists from different disciplines and sectors are working together to solve some of society’s biggest challenges.

Further information

Learn more about The Engineer.

Discover more about MeDe Innovation.

Find out more about iMBE.

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