There’s a wide variety of booming new digital industries prevalent in the UK today, and the category of health and medical technologies is one that’s making an impact. For the first time, the UK has topped the Times Higher Education ranking for life sciences subjects – with Oxford claiming #1 and Cambridge sharing the #2 slot with Harvard.
Top 10 health tech startup programs:
EnXray has patented a method, per Edward Cappabianca, CEO, for “generating low energy x-rays to achieve the required kilogray dosage of ionizing radiation to ensure that the bacterial load is reduced to a level that is deemed to be sterile. By enabling sterilization at the point of manufacture, companies will be able to significantly reduce time to market, and free up inventory holding costs that are currently imposed on them by their third party sterilization service providers.”
This company hopes to further the development of personalized medical devices, allowing the rapid sterilization of 3-D printed medical implants. It might also be applied in the reprocessing of medical devices, in hospital settings, and possibly for terminal sterilization of some pharmaceutical & biotechnology products.
The British start-up has developed a wearable device that can measure the way a patient’s body moves after implant surgery or to support physiotherapy. Specially designed wearable sensors are placed on the limb to be measured, which then stream the data they collect (live) to patient-centric software – delivering clear, instant results. This solution will additionally be expanded to include gait analysis.
As most physios and surgeons must currently take manual measurements, notating results on paper for later reference, this new digital technique could help reduce the administration costs whilst providing better outcome data. With a cost of less than 1-10th of comparable systems, it may also reduce fraudulent and expense claims of injury after accidents such as whip lash.
3. Stent Tek
Currently, kidney patients are connected to a vascular access site, in order to filter their blood. VAs are surgically created and are prone to clogging, with many failing right after they are made. “Our novel catheter device creates a more reliable access site through a minimally invasive procedure that makes it accessible to more patients and reduces cost for the healthcare system,” according to Sorin Popa.
Popa developed this technology during his Masters research at Imperial College London, and later launched this startup with his supervisor, Rob Dickinson. The technique deploys a stent graft which joins the artery to the vein, using 2 small catheters inserted through needle sized punctures in the skin.
Our next two mentions were first ranked Diamond winners in the MassChallenge UK accelerator competition of over 90 startups:
This medical devices firm has invented a permanently integrated smart device that provides the interface between an amputated stump and any prosthesis. “The integration allows plug & play prosthetic attachment to give a higher patient quality of life, cheaper care delivery for healthcare providers and lets prosthetic manufacturers form a new relationship with the consumer.”
A definite tech-for-good startup which manufactures incubators designed to reduce the number of premature infant deaths in underdeveloped areas. The device can be folded into the size of a briefcase and can run off a car battery, whilst providing the same performance and standards as modern incubation.
‘Mom’ costs only £250 to manufacture, test and transport. Invented by James Roberts, a 20-something recent grad from Loughborough University (whose design won the 2014 James Dyson award) says, “I was inspired to tackle this problem after watching a documentary on the issue of premature babies in refugee camps. It motivated me to use my design engineering skills to make a difference. Like many young inventors, there have been struggles for me along the way; I had to sell my car to fund my first prototype!”
This news was discovered in a post by James Kirkup – apparently Dr. Tom Insel has left the NIH (where he was positioned as the top mental health doctor in the U.S.), to work for Google. The new division of Google’s Alphabet wants to use wearable technology to transform healthcare.
People with chronic conditions will hopefully soon be able to track and report symptoms, instead of bearing the cost of expensive routine consults – and be assured a fast response to important changes which require medical attention.
Enter Dr. Insel, who feels the technology is perfectly suited to mental health. For instance, depression has symptoms which aren’t constant, but instead ebb and rise without pattern. Such a technique would allow for continual monitoring in cases such as this. Kirkup brings up the unease we may feel, but is hopeful that with proper rules of privacy and consent, the tech giants will improve desperately failing solutions for the mentally ill in our societies.
Our final three mentions are medical technology businesses in Wales, which are receiving grant funding from Innovate UK:
7. Invitron Ltd
This firm has developed a new technology for licencing and commercialising by strategic partners, which consist of a portable POCT (point of care test) instrument, with a range of 1-use disposable consumables. POCT are one of the most rapid growing segments of medical diagnostics, producing quick results enabling faster results at a lesser cost.
Finding that widespread use is limited by the current device’s lack of sensitivity and accuracy, Invitron developed and is producing high sensitivity chemiluminescent compounds that will allow point of care test kits to achieve the analytical sensitivity of a laboratory analyser.
The use of cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs) – such as pacemakers – is increasing with an aging population, and while they can improve quality of life, infections related to these devices can be costly and devastating to the patients.
Accentus is using the opportunity to exploit its cost effective and clinically proven Agluna® silver ion based antimicrobial surface technology applied to titanium CIED casings, to help mitigate the incidence and severity of CIED related infection. They plan to commercialise their technologies with licencing and manufacturing arrangements with global CIED companies.
This company is using Innovation in bespoke compression garments based on precision 3D imaging of limbs and unique proprietary software and hardware for medical applications, sports recovery and deep vein thrombosis prevention.
A well-proven means of managing and treating a range of diseases, compression therapy is currently expensive and difficult to deliver accurately. ATM tailors seam-free garments to the contour of the patient, ensuring that required pressure profiles are delivered every time.
10. Glyconics Ltd
An innovative diagnostics company using a novel approach to the diagnosis and monitoring of respiratory disease. They have developed a portable device able to determine whether chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is present within a few minutes. Glyconics uses Infrared Spectroscopy to analyse sputum samples for specific biomarkers characteristic of COPD. The technology has utility in clinical management and the development of COPD therapeutics.
COPD is the 3rd leading cause of death, with 240 million people affected. The 2 major clinical problems are that the accurate diagnosis of the disease has not materially improved over the last 50 years and the fact that patients will often present with flare-ups that require hospitalisation.