Health Technologies KTN
and technology in
the HealthTech sector
Innovation is critical for the UK to compete in the global market, to capture niche areas for development and to ensure best patient care can be provided at best cost. The Technology Strategy Board identifies this sector as a strategic market and sponsors the Health Technologies Knowledge Transfer Network (HT KTN) to connect all key players in the sector and to provide mechanisms to catalyse and accelerate new innovations into the marketplace.
The DOH European Collaboration Team ? Healthy Aims
The HT KTN operates at a strategic level, liaising with relevant government departments and trade associations to enable a better climate for innovating in the UK, and at an operational level to support groups or individual businesses to access the knowledge and resources needed to move innovations forward. Strategically, current topics include:
- Ministerial Medical Technologies Strategy Group ? jointly led by Dawn Primarolo, Minister of State for Public Health, and John Jeans, Vice-President International, Life Sciences and Chairman UK, GE Healthcare. This group is addressing key issues such as SME Competitiveness, NHS Procurement and adoption of new technologies, regulations and industry policy.
- National Institute for Health Research Medical Devices Clinical Research Working Group ? ensuring the UK environment for clinical investigations for medical devices is attractive to UK and overseas businesses.
- National Innovation Centre Technology Adoption Hub ? identifying and alleviating obstacles to adoption of innovative products that provide evidence-based benefits.
- Joint government Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) ? the Department of Health is ready to pilot a new programme to stimulate innovation in key clinical areas.
Operationally, the HT KTN is active in the following:
- Special Interest Groups (SIGs) in key clinical or issue-led topics such as Advanced Wound Management, Assistive Technologies, Clinical Trials, Orthopaedics, Tissue Engineering. These bring interested parties together, across government, industry, academia and the clinical base, helping to identify issues and opportunities and leading to new partnerships. New SIGs are anticipated in Hospital Acquired Infections, Diagnostics/Imaging, Drug Delivery, Regenerative Medicine, Nanomedicine.
- Statement of Clinical Need (SOCN) ? a key part of the innovation cycle is ensuring that technologies are developed that meet a clear clinical need. A portal, established by the HT KTN ?www.clinicalneed.com? helps to identify such needs, to validate these needs and to facilitate the discussions and new partnerships that can address and resolve such needs.
- Events ? working in collaboration with other KTNs, professional institutions, trade associations and commercial organisations, an annual programme of events (physical and online) is run to ensure different parts of the community can meet and develop new areas of collaboration or make the right connections to speed up current developments.
- Portal ? as with all KTNs there is an active portal which enables share of information and knowledge, as well as tools to share confidential and non-confidential documents, and to run online open and private meetings with colleagues anywhere in the world ? www.healthtechktn.com. Examples include a comprehensive events diary, guidelines to regulations and funding opportunities.
- Access to finance ? innovation requires finance from the earliest stage to prototyping and initial manufacture and trials. The HT KTN advises on the various public grant schemes, public contracts and contacts into private venture for later-stage developments. In particular, the HT KTN supports programmes funded by the Technology Strategy Board (Collaborative R&D, Innovation Platforms (more later)) and the National Institute for Health Research (Invention of Innovation (i4i) ? more later).
Professor Angus Wallace
Regional collaboration ? the Yorkshire-based White Rose Health Innovation Partnership, of which the Health Technologies KTN is a partner, has successfully awarded £1.1m to 32 Proof of Concept projects all of which have demonstrated new or enhanced partnerships between business, academia and the clinical base.
National collaboration ? a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) was established between Vascutek Ltd and TWI to develop manufacturing methods for a new nitinol based endovascular aneurysm repair system.
European collaboration ? the ?26million 25 partner Healthy Aims Framework 6 programme was supported by the HT KTN and has just reached a successful conclusion after four years of extensive research into innovative microsystems medical products including cochlear, functional electrical stimulation, ambulatory measurement, intracranial pressure sensor, retina implant and glaucoma sensor ? www.healthyaims.org. International collaboration ? three UK-China symposia have been held with HT KTN support, enabling businesses to gain high-level access to Chinese government, trade associations and business contacts and leading already to jointventure opportunities for innovative products.
Assisted Living Innovation Platform
The ageing population is a challenge that faces the UK alongside many other developed nations, with current care models becoming unsustainable and an environment of greater care in the community is needed. Such challenges lead to opportunities with a large market potential, encouraging innovation and linking it through to procurement. In collaboration with the Department of Health and the Research Councils, the Technology Strategy Board is leading the Assisted Living Innovation Platform (ALIP) to make significant advances in the technology needed to enable people who suffer from chronic long-term conditions to live independently.
ALIP is addressing new collaborative programmes to accelerate the take-up and scale-up of telecare and associated technologies that enable a new paradigm in care provision, and connect UK strengths in health technologies, digital comms and sensors, to name but a few. Knowledge transfer as apart of ALIP, will bring the different communities and local initiatives together to ensure the UK can make a national and global impact in this key area.
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) ? Invention for Innovation (i4i) Programme
The NIHR Invention for Innovation (i4i) Programme aims to improve the identification of promising healthcare technologies and accelerate the development of new healthcare products for the 21st century.
i4i is stimulating the flow of new product ideas into its new funding streams ? i4i Future Product Development ? and is improving links to other organisations and activities across the innovation landscape by investing in them through the i4i Challenge Fund for Innovation. Further, i4i will actively seek new collaborations and will aim to establish closer links between existing product funding streams and a range of ?ideas generators?.
i4i is building on two existing, successful NIHR programmes ? New and Emerging Applications of Technology (NEAT) and Health Technology Devices (HTD) ? which have now migrated to the i4i Programme.
Activities included under the umbrella of i4i are:
- i4i Future Product Development funding streams;
- Pilot Healthcare Technology Co-operatives (HTCs);
- Challenge Fund for Innovation supporting:
- NIHR involvement in Assisted Living Innovation Platform;
- NIHR involvement in Knowledge Transfer Partnership programme;
- NIHR involvement with Medical Futures;
- NIHR involvement in MATCH PLUS project;
- The migration of the New and Emerging Applications of Technology (NEAT) and Health Technology Devices (HTD) programmes into the i4i Programme.
i4i Future Product Development
i4i Future Product Development offers investigators three funding streams capable of supporting projects anywhere between post-basic research and prior to undertaking large-scale clinical trials or health technology assessments, thus providing:
- Flexible entry points;
- Close co-ordination between streams;
- Encouragement for industry partnerships.
The essential feature of i4i Future Product Development is that there must be a device in view from the start. Applications for i4i Future Product Development are made online through the NIHR Central Commissioning Facility (NIHRCCF) website at: www.nihr-ccf.org.uk/site/programmes/i4i.
Pilot Healthcare Technology Co-operatives
New microcapsules used for drug delivery
Based in two NHS Trusts, the pilot Healthcare Technology Co-operatives (HTCs) being funded as part of i4i are a new type of NHS-led virtual organisation, which bring together stakeholders with a common purpose. Patients and carers, academics, clinicians, nurses and other healthcare providers are working in partnership with industry to catalyse the development of innovative healthcare technology products.
The pilot co-operatives fulfil a recommendation of the Healthcare Industries Taskforce and are a result of collaborations between government, industry and research councils working with patient groups and clinicians. The NIHR and the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) with support from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Medical Research Council are investing up to £250,000 a year for two years in each of the pilot co-operatives.
The Bowel Function HTC is hosted within the Centre for Academic Surgery at Barts and The London NHS Trust and School of Medicine and Dentistry and aims to identify and develop new devices and procedures to improve the healthcare outcomes for those affected by disorders of bowel function. Website: www.bfhtc.org.uk. The Devices for Dignity HTC is based at the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust and focuses on improving dignity and independence in long-term conditions, working across boundaries to make a tangible difference to patients? lives. Website: www.devicesfordignity.org.uk.
i4i Challenge Fund for Innovation
The i4i Challenge Fund for Innovation is one of the mechanisms whereby NIHR is stimulating the flow of innovative ideas, which can be turned into products for the NHS. Some of these ideas are quite near market and require a different approach to those that are supported under i4i Future Product Development. i4i is gaining access to good ideas by coinvesting in appropriate activities operated by other organisations such as other government departments, research councils and the private sector. NIHR?s investment can be in the form of working closely with the organisation to help set the agenda as well as contributing funds to specific projects.
Current i4i collaborations support NIHR involvement in:
- The Assisted Living Innovation Platform led by the Technology Strategy Board to meet the demand for independent living from people suffering from chronic long-term conditions.
- The Knowledge Transfer Partnership programme, which puts companies and universities in partnership.
- Medical Futures, an annual competition to identify promising inventions in a variety of categories.
- The MATCH PLUS project. MATCH (Multidisciplinary Assessment of Technology Centre for Healthcare) is a research collaboration between five universities and a group of industrial partners funded by the EPSRC to develop methods and models to assess the value of products from multiple perspectives.
In the future, NIHR may also challenge industry through the i4i Challenge Fund for Innovation to provide the products the NHS needs through directed calls for proposals.
Health Technologies KTN