Medtech Accelerator awards £500k to ground-breaking medical technology projects

Medtech Accelerator, a joint venture with innovation hub Health Enterprise East (HEE), has unveiled its latest round of successfully funded projects, with financial awards totalling nearly half a million pounds.

Awards of between £80,000 and £125,000 each were given to four separate medical technology innovations: a safer injection system for regional anaesthesia, vacuum therapy for leaks in the upper gastrointestinal (UGI) tract, a non-invasive sleep apnoea diagnostic device, and a pioneering technology to improve the efficacy of tissue ablation, used to destroy tumours.

Launched at the end of 2016, Medtech Accelerator is a joint venture between the NHS and regional business partners, including Health Enterprise East (HEE), New Anglia and Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough (GCGP) Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), and the Eastern Academic Health Science Network (AHSN).

The aim of Medtech Accelerator is to provide funding for early stage development of innovations in medical technology and thereby ensure that the NHS and its patients can benefit from these innovations as quickly as possible. The funding will be used to develop prototype devices, support further technological development, prepare for CE-marking and conduct human study trials. This is the second successfully funded round of projects by Medtech Accelerator, following the inaugural launch of the first round of projects earlier this summer.

Commenting on the newly-funded projects, Dr Anne Blackwood, CEO of Health Enterprise East, said: “Without the proper funding, brilliant innovations can go unrecognised and fail to get developed altogether, much to the detriment of the NHS. Medtech Accelerator supports medtech innovators in the crucial early stages of growth, with funding that will help them get to market faster. We are delighted to issue our second round of awards, which when combined with our first round of awards launch earlier this year totals £670k for seven projects – all of which have the potential to become game-changers in the NHS and life-changing for patients.”

Professor Steve Feast, Managing Director of the Eastern AHSN, commented: “Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, recently announced that he has asked for a further clinically led review of safety. The Medtech Accelerator is at the forefront of this agenda as we invest in clinically led design. This aligns with the key agenda to help citizens to experience safer, high quality care, provided in more convenient and effective ways. These awards take us a further step towards that goal.”

The latest round of awards was given to the following projects:

Award 1: £124,796 Bimodal Electric Tissue Ablation (BETA) – Next Generation Radiofrequency Ablation Dr David Brooks: Ablatus Therapeutics Limited (spin-out company from Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust)
Tissue ablation is a surgical procedure used to destroy tissue, such as a tumour, in situ. Current application of the procedure is limited in terms of the size and location of tumours which can be treated. Bimodal Electric Tissue Ablation (BETA) offers the potential to address some of the problems of the most commonly-used ablation system, by utilising a combination of AC and DC power which prevents tissue damage created by charring and increases the size of the zone which can be treated. The technology was originally developed within the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (NNUH) and spun out of the hospital as Ablatus Therapeutics in May 2016 with £500k of initial investment. This award is part of a follow-on funding round being led by the Medtech Accelerator that will support further technology development towards CE-marking and human study trials at the NNUH.

Award 2: £125,000 for Endoluminal vacuum therapy device (E-Vac) for the management of upper gastrointestinal (UGI) leaks  Andrew Hindmarsh: Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Leaks from the upper gastrointestinal (UGI) tract can occur following medical interventions such as surgery and endoscopy. Treatment of the leak is essential to prevent sepsis and potential mortality. The endoluminal vacuum device (E-Vac) addresses UGI leaks and is placed endoscopically through the defect in the oesophageal wall into the leak cavity to drain the infection, control the leak, and obliterates the leak cavity without recourse to surgery. The award will be used to take early prototypes through to a CE marked medical device ready for market and is being carried out in collaboration with development partner, JEB Technologies.

Award 3: £124,724 Non-contact, sleep apnoea diagnostic deviceDr Ian Smith: Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Over 600,000 people in the UK have significant obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), a condition that causes breathing to repeatedly stop and start during sleep, which has a big impact on quality of life and increases the risk of developing conditions such as hypertension, atrial fibrillation and stroke. This project aims to develop a non-invasive, sleep apnoea measurement device that works to diagnose OSA in home studies, allowing all patients with OSA to be offered appropriate, affordable, high-quality care. The award brings together the expertise of Papworth Hospital and technology development and commercialisation company, Iceni Labs, to develop prototype diagnostic devices for OSA that will be tested and clinically validated within Papworth’s Respiratory Support and Sleep Centre.

Award 4: £80,000 for SAFIRA – Safer Injection for Regional Anaesthesia  Dr John Gibson: Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust

Safer Injection System for Regional Anaesthesia (SAFIRA) provides a simpler, quicker and cheaper method to inject regional anaesthetic agents and reduces the risks associated with the standard procedure. Over 6 million regional anaesthetic blocks are performed each year throughout the EU and US and current regional anaesthesia practice requires two operators. The SAFIRA system eliminates the need for a second operator and allows the anaesthetist to control the entire delivery of anaesthetic. The award will develop the current SAFIRA prototype in conjunction with development partner, 42 Technology, towards a first in man study.