Multi-million-pound funding boost for medical device innovation in Scotland

Published: 11 December 2023

Researchers from the James Watt School of Engineering have welcomed news that a medical device consortium supported by the University of Glasgow has secured significant new funding.

Researchers from the James Watt School of Engineering have welcomed news that a medical device consortium supported by the University of Glasgow has secured significant new funding.
The Medical Device Manufacturing Centre (MDMC) has been awarded £3.35 million of additional funding from Scottish Enterprise to continue its work developing novel medical device innovation and improve the industry’s sustainability.
The new funding was confirmed on Thursday 7th December by the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy, Neil Gray, who was given a tour of the facility.

Dr Tamer Cosgun, a Technical Specialist with MDMC, explains an element of the work of particular interest to Neil Gray, Wellbeing Economy Secretary

The money will help to address current challenges facing organisations like the NHS, exploring the inclusion and development of degradable or reusable polymers.
Designed to have reduced environmental impact, use of these polymers could help to make medical device manufacturing more sustainable. More work will also be done on the real-time evaluation of the carbon footprint of manufacturing processes and the safer removal of greenhouse gases in the NHS.
Additionally, further support will be given to earlier-stage entrepreneurs in healthcare who are part of Scottish Enterprise’s High Growth Spinout Programme, a significant and positive step towards closer integration of innovation in the health and care sectors.
The MDMC is a consortium of institutions including Heriot-Watt University, where it is headquartered, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Glasgow, and Robert Gordon University.
It was also announced that the MDMC has a new partner in the University of Dundee, which has an impressive legacy in precision machining of metal-based devices. There is a considerable suite of state-of-the art commercial manufacturing equipment at what was formerly IMSaT (The Institute for Medical Science and Technology) in Dundee that will be reconditioned to cover the field of key-hole surgery for brain, limb and heart applications, implantable devices, and endoscopic devices.
The University of Glasgow’s contribution to the MDMC includes providing SMEs with access to a range of cutting-edge equipment and facilities established by the Materials and Manufacturing Research Group and the College of Science & Engineering Analytical suite.
The facilities available also include equipment at ANALOGUE, a new suite for nanoelectronics characterisation, assembly, and additive packaging funded by a £2.6m grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
Professor Sandy Cochran of the James Watt School of Engineering has led the University of Glasgow’s role in the consortium since its inception and is part of the MDMC executive group.
He said: “I’m delighted that Scottish Enterprise have offered further support for the Medical Device Manufacturing Centre to continue the consortium’s valuable work in supporting SMEs to develop new products to bring to the marketplace.
“The University of Glasgow has played a key role in the development of the MDMC and its many partnerships with companies across Scotland. This new funding promises to advance that work in exciting new directions and we’re proud to be supporting breakthrough developments in life sciences by offering access to the University’s world-leading suite of analytical and manufacturing facilities.”
Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray said: “This funding will not only drive innovation across the healthcare landscape, but help produce more sustainable medical devices as we continue our transition to net zero.
“Having previously supported the MDMC through the Scottish Government’s Advancing Manufacturing Challenge Fund, it is fantastic to see these state-of-the-art facilities continuing to encourage collaborative working.
“Innovation is a priority, and the National Innovation Strategy sets out plans to drive up our performance and compete with the best in the world over the next decade.”
Professor Marc Desmulliez, Manager of the Medical Device Manufacturing Centre (MDMC) based at Heriot-Watt University said: “This significant funding from Scottish Enterprise will enable us to continue to support and elevate Scottish medical device innovation, creating new and ground-breaking medical devices with global impact. Scotland is brimming with entrepreneurs, but they need access to the right resources, facilities, and expertise at the right time to bring their products to market and benefit patient care.
“We believe that companies are unable to fully realize the potential value of their medical device technologies due to the high costs and limited access associated with conducting clinical investigations, consulting health economists, and utilising cadaver models.
“This next growth phase for the MDMC will further accelerate Scotland’s offering in this crucial sector, maintaining our world-leading stance in the field of medical device creation with a renewed focus on sustainability and environmentally sensitive manufacturing techniques.”
More than 150 SME medical device companies in Scotland have worked with the MDMC since it was launched in April 2020. Its key role is to provide free expert advice on manufacturing engineering, regulatory issues, and funding streams, coupled with technically supported access to state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities. Its engineers, scientists and clinicians have helped Scotland’s SMEs to translate medical device concepts into commercial products.
Lindsay Methven, Head of Major Programme Management at Scottish Enterprise, said: “This latest award of £3.35 million from Scottish Enterprise takes our total project funding to almost £5 million and demonstrates our ambitions for MDMC and its role in transforming Scotland’s economy by helping to grow the number of entrepreneurs building stronger, scalable innovative medical technologies businesses.
“Integrating MDMC support with our Scottish Enterprise entrepreneurial services means a more seamless approach for companies to help them significantly scale up their operations and accelerate their growth journey, regardless of whether that’s launching a fundraising round, bringing innovative products to domestic or international markets, securing a first major contract, or developing or reshoring manufacturing facilities to produce their devices.”
Companies supported by the MDMC include Intellipalp, which is working to take its prostate cancer diagnostic device from concept to prototype. It has also had contact with more than one University of Glasgow spin-out. Such work can save clients many months of development time and helps them to secure significant investment.

First published: 11 December 2023