New centre to revolutionise medical technology
27th February 2013
The University of Leeds is leading a £5.7 million, government-backed initiative to transform the way replacement joints and other medical implants are made.
The Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Medical Devices will bring together academics and industrialists in a bid to maintain the UK's leading role in the medical technologies industry and improve the quality of lives of patients.
It is one of four new centres for innovative manufacturing announced by Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts that will share a pot of £21 million grant funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) when they open later this year.
Professor John Fisher, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, will lead the new centre. He said: "The medical technology market is estimated to be worth £200 billion worldwide and demand for medical devices is growing fast, driven by ageing populations that expect longer and fuller lives.
"We want to develop new ways of designing and manufacturing devices that meet the needs of particular patients and bring the manufacturing of devices much closer to them," he added. "Instead of doctors ordering, unpacking and fitting implants, we want devices to be personalised to meet individuals' needs and be made in or near the clinical setting."
The centre will bring together leading companies and five UK centres of excellence in medical technology and manufacturing at Leeds, Newcastle University, the University of Nottingham, the University of Sheffield and the University of Bradford.
The Faculty of Biological Sciences has researchers, such as Professor Eileen Ingham, which are key to this new Centre in the Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (iMBE), one of the UK's leading bioengineering research institutions. It has pioneered work on longer-lasting joint replacements, revolutionary spinal interventions and biological scaffolds for tissue repair that grow with the body.
The initial focus of the new centre's work will be on medical devices for musculoskeletal and cardiovascular disease, where the cost of failure is high and the need for devices that keep working for a patient's whole life is clear.
The centre will also develop a network of over 300 industrial partners, academics and clinicians focused on medical device innovation and manufacturing. The network will lead the development of new international standards to overcome barriers to adoption in global markets and support the adoption of new technology in the NHS by working with the new Academic Health Science Networks.
The £21 million for the four new centres for innovative manufacturing was part of a £45 million package of investments in manufacturing research announced by Dr Willetts ahead of the BIS Manufacturing Summit.
"The UK has a proud history of manufacturing but to build on this success industry needs access to the very latest science and technology," Dr Willetts said. "This £45 million package of investment will see our world-class research base investigating innovative new manufacturing equipment and techniques. This will support our industrial strategy in a range of important sectors, driving growth and keeping the UK ahead in the global race."
EPSRC's Chief Executive, Professor David Delpy said: "EPSRC Centres of Innovative Manufacturing are building on previous investments we have made in the research base and combining academic innovation with industry knowledge. These new centres are in areas that are strategically important to the UK and the work there will push research boundaries and drive growth."
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