The five-year agreement will see the Medical Device Manufacturing Centre (MDMC), based at the University’s Edinburgh campus, collaborate with networks of the Glasgow-based organisation that says it is the representative body for Scotland’s enabling technology sector.
The tie-up aims to allow MDMC-supported small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to engage with Technology Scotland, in particular its Product Design Scotland Network, to advance design requirements with a particular focus on the sustainability of medical devices. The plan is for resulting knowledge, expertise and innovation to be shared across Heriot-Watt’s global campuses including Dubai and Malaysia, along with the facility’s partner academic institutions.
The new agreement was celebrated during a visit from Scottish Business Minister Ivan McKee, who toured the MDMC facilities, learning about its work to date, including its support of 115 SMEs via free advice and technically supported access to its £2 million specialist manufacturing facilities. He met university representatives to discuss opportunities for growth in the medical device manufacturing and biotechnology sector in Scotland, including accelerating the “Triple Helix of Innovation” through closer collaboration between academia, NHS and industry. Medical device sustainability challenges in the NHS were also explored.
Professor Duncan Hand, director of the MDMC, said: “Access to specialist design capability is one of the biggest challenges that SMEs working in this sector currently face. We were pleased to showcase to the Minister how the MDMC is addressing these challenges in partnership with organisations like Technology Scotland. We are a nation of innovators, but it is essential that expert support [be] more easily and consistently accessible to SMEs to translate their game-changing innovations into devices that can be more quickly adopted for the benefit of patient care. Our new strategic partnership will further accelerate Scotland's offering in this area, ensuring our nation retains a world-leading position in the field of medical-device-creation.”
Alastair McInroy, chief executive of Technology Scotland, which supports about 130 industrial and academic members, said: “Through our Product Design Scotland network, [we are] delighted to be partnering with MDMC to provide life science SMEs with improved access to Scotland’s excellent design capabilities.”
Also commenting was David Richardson, chief entrepreneurial executive at Heriot-Watt, who noted that Scotland’s life sciences sector is on track to turn over more than £8 billion by 2025 if the current upward trajectory can be maintained. He added: “We see strategic academic and industry collaborations like the MDMC playing a major role in that continued growth.
"We were pleased to have the opportunity to discuss opportunities in this sector with Mr McKee and explore how the MDMC can expand its services, creating solutions for more companies across a range of manufacturing and design challenges. We look forward to working closely with the Scottish Government, industry, the NHS and expert partners like Technology Scotland on Scotland’s life sciences growth journey but, most significantly, sharing these learnings and innovations globally to support patient care.”
Mr McKee noted Scottish Government support of the MDMC, which inked another related partnership earlier this year, and said it was “rewarding” to learn more about the new tie-up, adding: “Healthtech and medical devices provide significant economic, health and job opportunities within Scotland’s manufacturing sector.”