Engineers to contribute expertise to new medical device manufacturing centre

The School of Engineering is to play a major role in a new centre supporting small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Scotland to develop and manufacture innovative medical devices.

It was recently announced that the Medical Device Manufacturing Centre (MDMC) – which is led by a consortium of four Scottish universities including Edinburgh – is to receive £3.7M funding from the government-backed Advancing Manufacturing Challenge Fund (AMCF).

The new centre will provide SMEs with a crucial enabling step towards ‘first in patient’ studies - a key stage of medical development, where a device is used on people for the first time.

The initiative is led by Heriot-Watt University and brings together engineers, clinicians and business development experts at the universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Robert Gordon, which combine strong track records in manufacturing, testing and clinical translation of medical devices. The AMCF funding is to be managed by the four Universities, Scottish Enterprise, and the Edinburgh & South East Scotland City Region Deal.

Accelerating medical tech

The MDMC will support SMEs to address some of the key obstacles they face in translating ideas for innovative medical technology into finished products ready for use in frontline healthcare. Such obstacles include the expenses involved in prototyping and testing, and meeting stringent NHS regulatory requirements.

The MDMC will provide SMEs with expert advice on manufacturing engineering, regulatory issues and sources of funding, coupled with technically-supported access to manufacturing facilities, to assist them in the translation of medical device concepts through to small batch commercial prototypes.

Scottish University collaboration

The MDMC is led by Heriot-Watt’s Professors Marc Desmulliez and Duncan Hand, who explained: “In these difficult times where the COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to shut down, the MDMC is eager to assist and help SMEs in their commercial recovery.”

Professors Hand and Professor Desmulliez are supported by a Management Team drawn from the four universities, including the University of Edinburgh’s Professor Fiona Denison as Clinical Lead. Professor Alistair Elfick, Head of the Institute for Bioengineering, is leading the School of Engineering’s involvement in the initiative.

Professor Elfick said: “The MDMC’s concentration of engineering and clinical expertise, manufacturing tools and ambitious vision promises to act as a powerful catalyst for Scotland’s biomedical SMEs.

“Our School will bring focal expertise in biomaterials testing and medical device design to the initiative, while our colleagues in the University of Edinburgh’s College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine will provide invaluable insight from the clinical perspective.”

Partnership working

The MDMC will work in partnership with medical device design companies, clinicians, and patient groups, seeking to translate engineering and clinical knowhow to ensure that medical device manufacture is both practical and commercially viable. Its activities will be driven by unmet clinical and industrial needs.

The Centre is supported by an Independent Advisory Group consisting of representatives from the NHS; regulatory and clinical trials experts; medical device companies; and clinicians, to ensure it delivers an optimal effect.

Call for SME engagement

MDMC is currently reaching out to engage with a broad range of SMEs in Scotland working in medical device manufacturing. The MDMC encourage them to contact the Centre with their manufacturing-related requirements.

Contact email: MDMC@HW.AC.UK