The only way is up for Scotland’s med tech sector - Tim Hargreaves

The pandemic has fuelled innovation and put a focus on research and development efforts.

Tim Hargreaves is a Patent attorney at Marks & Clerk LLP.

We’ve seen companies diversifying and aiding production of items such as respirators, ventilators, masks and vaccines.

This list of examples only scratches the surface when it comes to med tech – a field which covers an array of impressive technologies.

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Scotland is recognised worldwide for its innovative spirit so it will come as no surprise to hear the country punches above its weight when it comes to med tech innovation.

Without a doubt, our strength in this area is based in part on our strong and impressive university and spin out community. We are home to a range of ground-breaking research projects and companies undertaking work of global significance.

Take Canon Medical Research Europe (previously known as Voxar) for example. Since its beginnings over 20 years ago as a University of Edinburgh spin-out, the Leith-based company has developed next-generation medical imaging software and is now an AI centre of excellence.

This home-grown company generates breakthrough tech and valuable IP for Canon Medical Systems and its software can be found in hospitals worldwide.

However it has not forgotten its academic roots, maintaining strong links to universities via studentships and joint projects as well as close involvement with the Industrial Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research in Digital Diagnostics (iCAIRD) based in University of Glasgow’s Clinical Innovation Zone at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

Then there’s Proteus, an interdisciplinary research collaboration involving Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt and Bath universities.

Right now, its team of internationally recognised researchers and academics are working together to develop a revolutionary technology to provide quick diagnosis and management of of multiple diseases, including cancer and infection. Such diseases are amongst the most common in the world, so this cutting-edge diagnostic technology, providing a real-time view of what pathogens are present, has the potential to be a real game-changer.

Another company pushing the boundaries is Emblation Limited. Based on the founders’ decades of cumulative experience in microwave technologies, Emblation has developed award-winning treatments for a range of dermatological conditions. They continue to break new ground exploring the frontiers of research based on subtle ways of affecting immune responses using microwaves, all leading to practical solutions to real life medical problems.

Further north we have a med tech spin-out from the University of Aberdeen, the Inverness firm MIME Technologies, which manages information in medical emergencies for the aviation and maritime industries. It develops solutions for in-flight and offshore emergencies, integrating sensor technologies that help crew to assess and communicate medical data.

Testament to its exemplary work is the fact it was recently selected from around 200 applicants to join the ATI Boeing Accelerator programme for world-class young companies creating sustainability-enabling technologies – and crucially has just secured a six-figure funding deal that will enable product development, job creation and customer growth.

Underpinning each of these success stories are strong intellectual property portfolios and the use of patents to grow value.

Savvy start-ups recognise the crucial role of robust IP in attracting investor funding allowing them to thrive.

Emerging technologies such as AI and 3D printing are becoming increasingly important in med tech – I’ve seen this first-hand through my role at Marks & Clerk where we’re at the forefront of patenting in these areas – so I have no doubt Scotland’s med tech success is only set to grow.

Tim Hargreaves is a Patent attorney at Marks & Clerk LLP

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