Sector Insights

The growing and innovative MedTech community

Some incredible advances in medical technology are helping to improve people's lives. ScotGrad's Alexis Evans has been finding out about MedTech in the Scottish Highlands and Islands.

Published: 27/02/2018

Medical technology insulin pump

Sticky plasters, syringes and latex gloves: these are all familiar examples of how MedTech helps improve our lives. At the high-tech end of the scale, companies have come up with some incredible inventions which have helped to improve (and extend) people’s lives; from pacemakers and heart valves, to body scanners and replacement knee joints.

So where to next?  Medical technology continues to evolve alongside advancements in digital health, resulting in some incredibly important, often life-changing inventions.

The most intricate and complex of surgical devices have tiny internal channels that can be smaller than 1mm.  They’re extremely difficult to clean properly, and adequate cleaning dramatically reduces the risk of infection, disease and damage to patients, while at the same time reducing costs of treating these issues.

Aseptium, set up by design engineer Pawel de Sternberg Stojalowski, specialises in cutting-edge medical decontamination equipment, and is attracting global interest with its pioneering range of washers. 

The company relocated from Essex to be part of an emerging hub, of life sciences businesses, public sector agencies and academics, on Inverness Campus. There is huge and rising demand for Aseptium’s ground-breaking technology, and its potential impact can’t be underestimated.

What's happening in the Highlands and Islands?

The Highlands and Islands are a magnet for progressive industries and innovative businesses, with MedTech businesses being drawn to the region to be amongst growing clusters of companies across the life sciences sector.  Inverness Campus is home to several companies specialising in digital health, engineering, animal health and biotechnology; a perfect petri dish for innovative ideas, networking and potential collaboration.

Hubs like these also tend to incubate fresh talent and create new start-ups. For example, Inside Biometrics International based in Dingwall was formed by a team of people who had gained valuable experience in the medical devices industry. They make a self-tracking device which helps millions of people with diabetes, and for which they won the Innovation Category at the 2017 Scottish Life Science Awards.

And there’s plenty of innovation going on. Like something you’d see brandished aboard the USS Enterprise, a firm in Ross-shire has developed hand-held technology that can detect internal bleeding.  The company, Highland Biosciences, was formed by two entrepreneurs who had achieved success as innovators within blue chip global companies, like J&J Lifescan and GlaxoSmithKline.

It’s not just small companies either. Located in the Highlands is one of the largest MedTech companies in Scotland. LifeScan Scotland, a Johnson & Johnson company, is based in Inverness and has supported the University of the Highlands and Islands UHI with the development of the MSc Applied Bioscience Skills for Industry, and run their own 2-year graduate scheme.

So in summary MedTech is a fast-paced, exciting strand of life sciences. It’s rapidly expanding, so needs talented individuals to become a part of the action.  Whether you’re a chemist, physicist, engineer or software analyst, consider a career in MedTech for the opportunities it holds and for the very real differences you could make. 

Location-wise, the Highlands and Islands of Scotland might not initially seem the obvious choice. However with global firms and many pioneering small companies choosing to be there, each packed with entrepreneurs and buzzing with ideas, the region is becoming home to a fantastically well-connected life sciences community with lots of opportunities to get involved.

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